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Short-handed Rebels hang tough with Angels

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By Brian Forbes

DENVER — The Rebels didn’t get burned in their latest trial by fire on April 26.

Loaded with youth and smarting from a host of injuries and sicknesses, Columbine’s boys lacrosse team got to measure itself against perennial powerhouse Denver East in a nonleague tune-up before the postseason begins this week.

The outcome was an 8-3 loss. The verdict, however, looked pretty good to coach Steve Bailey.

“We all have to keep in perspective that they’re young and they’re going to be great next year and the following year with all this good experience they’re getting,” Bailey said of his squad.

The Rebels (8-5) overcame a slow start to twice tie the Angels (10-3) in the second quarter before the home team seized control by outscoring Columbine 3-0 in the pivotal third quarter.

Ryan Ripperton, Josh Gregg and Joe Sherman each scored and senior goalie Stephen George made seven of his nine saves in the first half for the Rebels. Sophomore midfielder Aaron Franks had two assists and Justin Simpson had another for Columbine.

“We know they’re a pretty good offensive team. They got 11 goals against Kent (Denver) this year,” Ripperton said of the Angels. “So it was nice to see our defense really step up and play well. Our offense did a pretty good job possessing the ball.”

East, which was missing nine players – six starters – to similar circumstances as the Rebels, had an active start to the game but could not beat George in the opening eight minutes.

The Angels finally scored on a goal by Robbie Nichols, but could not increase their lead in the quarter despite the Rebels managing just one shot worthy of a save in the quarter.

Columbine struggled with their possession early on and lost its shape defensively at times.

“We were trying to change defenses,” Bailey said of the early confusion. “What we’re really trying to do is get better for the playoffs so we can compete a little more effectively and change defenses on the fly rather than waiting for dead balls.”

Ripperton tied the score 1-1 on a goal early in the second quarter on a man advantage before the Angels regained the lead 40 second later.

Columbine tied the score – again on the man advantage – with 8:43 remaining in the quarter when Simpson fired a pass from behind the East cage to Gregg up top who had good time to measure a blistering bouncer.

East answered four minutes before halftime to go up 3-2 and would double its goals in the third quarter.

Columbine 0-2-0-1—3

East 1-2-3-2—8

Goals (assists): First period: E: Nichols (Finegan), 8:00; Second period: C: Ripperton (Franks), 1:15 pp; E: Swarsen (unassisted), 1:55; C: Gregg (Simpson), 3:17 pp; E: Lamarre (Nichols), 7:24. Third period: E: Urbana (Swarsen), 5:41; Urbana (unassisted), 8:22; Swarsen (Urbana), 9:26. Fourth period: E: Nichols (Hambidge), 3:54; C: Sherman (Franks), 7:37; E: Swarsen (Nichols), 10:31. Saves: C: George 7-2 – 9; E: Londer 3-4 – 7; Dudley 0-0 – 0.