DENVER — It took a special night, but the Columbine Rebels finally beat the Bogeyman.
The Rebels won the Denver Lacrosse League’s summer season championship Aug. 3 by finally overcoming Jefferson County rival Wheat Ridge with a 7-6 victory at the University of Denver.
Having dispatched Castle View 9-5 in the semifinals, the Rebels were disciplined from the onset against the Farmers, who had defeated the Rebels in their only summer meeting, and dealt them defeat during the spring prep season.
The Rebels opened a 3-0 lead against the Farmers and refused to lose their cool, despite being temporarily reeled in when the Farmers evened the score at 4-4 and 5-5. Rhys Harrison put the Rebels up for good late in the third period and Nick Burns scored the game winner early in the fourth.
“Credit to the kids,” Rebels coach Jack Murray said. “They had to keep their heads about them, and they did.”
The Rebels nearly lost their heads in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter, with the Farmers down 7-6 and frantically pressing for the equalizer. The Rebels had several chances to kill the clock with smart possession but they turned it over twice and had to rely on goalie Ben Ripperton to bail them out.
Ripperton made two of his seven saves late in the fourth quarter and the Columbine defense made sure Wheat Ridge could do nothing with its man advantage in the final four seconds.
“It’s great to have a stopper like that in back to bail you out when stuff breaks down,” Murray said of his goalie. “He’s up to the challenge (and) he showed it.”
The Rebels showed off their depth by getting six goals from six different players. The only constant was Chris Jasen, who dished out three assists, including a great centering pass from behind the cage to find Burns for the game winner.
Aaron Franks, Aaron Riley and Tristan Riley all scored in the first period to put the Rebels up 3-0. Anthony Wilner made it 4-2 in the second quarter when he won the faceoff, carried the ball right down the middle of the field and scored.
Good fortune appeared to be waning for the Rebels after Wilner’s goal as Jake Beuscher hit the post off a pass from Franks before halftime. Then the Farmers scored twice to make it 4-4 in the third quarter, a flurry that came on the heels of Tristan Riley missing a great scoring opportunity off another smart pass from Franks.
That made Beuscher’s goal key as he took a pass from Jasen, took two steps to his right and fired a shot home to put the Rebels up 5-4 in the third quarter. The Farmers clawed back briefly to make it 5-5 before Harrison put the Rebels up for good late in the third quarter.
The Rebels celebrated with a few quick pictures before the lights were shut off and everyone scattered like the Bogeyman when he realizes he’s not scaring anyone.
“These have been working all season about running the offense, taking care of the ball, not playing as frantic, playing fast but playing smart, and I think they really put it together,” Murray said. “We peaked at the right time here at the end of the summer season. It all came together.”