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ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: Chatfield lacrosse nets first-ever playoff win

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By Dan Johnson

ARVADA — Max Erickson could sense the end was near for Smoky Hill.

After getting off to a sluggish start in its first-ever playoff game, Chatfield's boys lacrosse team opened and closed the third quarter on a tear.

The Chargers scored two goals in the opening minute and two in the final 43 seconds, turning a one-goal halftime lead into a four-goal advantage heading into the final 12 minutes.

Smoky Hill never recovered, and wound up on the short side of a 13-7 score May 6 in a Class 5A state tournament second round game at the North Area Athletic Complex.

With the win, the Chargers take on Regis in the quarterfinals, likely on May 9.

"We saw them shut down a bit after we scored those two late goals," said Erickson, who finished with a goal and five assists. "I think the pressure of being in the playoffs got to us early, but once we settled down we found a good rhythm on offense."

That rhythm typically included Erickson feeding attacker Ian Fidino in front of the Smoky Hill net for solid scoring chances. Fidino converted five times, with Erickson assisting on three of the goals.

"It was a team effort," said Fidino, who returned the favor when he assisted Erickson on his lone goal. "Everyone was out there contributing."

Everyone - including goalie Connor Lewis, who stonewalled the Buffaloes, particularly in the second half. Lewis finished with 13 saves - six coming in the decisive third quarter where the Chargers outscored the Buffaloes 5-2.

Lewis, though, wasn't confined to the net, as he also made a cameo appearance as an attacker - with good results. After coming up with the ball in the crease, Lewis darted up field and nearly reached the Smoky Hill net before a defender got in his way. Lewis quickly flipped the ball over to Fidino, who converted the easy goal.

"I wanted to shoot it," Lewis said. "But I didn't have a good look, so I gave it to Ian and he put it home. It's not something I work on much, but the coaches have been telling me that if I have the opportunity to advance the ball, to do it."

Offense was at a premium in the opening quarter, with both teams scoring just a single goal. The defense on both sides was aggressive, routinely checking balls out of opposing attackers' sticks, not allowing the offense to set up a sustained possession.

Things picked up in the second quarter and the game was tied at 4-4 until the final second when Fidino scooped up a loose ball in front of the Smoky Hill net and flicked it in the goal with 0.6 seconds remaining on the clock.

Chatfield dominated all phases of the game in the second half - particularly in the third quarter, where attacker Dallin Hall played a huge role.

Hall opened the scoring barrage just 10 seconds into the quarter. He also netted the closing goal of the quarter with 1.1 seconds on the clock and ripped home his final goal of the game with 11:09 to play that put the Chargers up five and all but sealed the victory.

"It's a great feeling to get this win," Erickson said. "For a first-year program to come out and get a playoff win is huge."

Smoky Hill 1-3-2-1—7

Chatfield 1-4-5-3—13

Goals-assists: Chatfield: Ian Fidino 5-1, Max Erickson 1-5, Greg Kelsic 2-3, Dallin Hall 4-0, Connor Lewis 0-1, Nick Nedeau 1-2. Smoky Hill: Andy Weir 1-1, Jackson Lane 3-1, Harry Dietrick 0-1, Matt Schulz 1-0, Blake Sparger 0-1, Taylor Peper 2-2, Kevin Younger 0-1. Saves: Chatfield: Lewis 13, Koahl Thornton 2. Smoky Hill: Shane Countryman 4.