A year after playing one of its most forgettable games at Mile High Stadium, the Regis Jesuit boys lacrosse team produced one of its most memorable May 18.
The Raiders rid themselves of the memory of a nine-goal defeat to Cherry Creek last season in the Class 5A state championship game with a defensively-driven 10-4 victory over Kent Denver.
Coach Jim Soran’s top-seeded Regis Jesuit took the lead at the 12-second mark when senior long stick middie Charlie Maly buried a shot on a pass from senior Patrick Roe and after a brief tie in the opening period, led the rest of the way against the second-seeded Sun Devils, who were playing in their first state championship game since 2011.
“Last year was awful, it was probably the worst game we’ve played since my freshman year,” said junior Joe Kassal, referring to last season’s 17-8 loss to Cherry Creek on the same field.
“Being able to come back here and get redemption in the finals is one of the biggest parts of what made this season so full and made us so happy at the end.”
Regis Jesuit — which won its first boys lacrosse state title against the same Kent Denver program in 2011 — won its fourth overall title.
The Raiders have played in the state final in five straight seasons and won in 2014 (14-7 over Cherry Creek), 2016 (11-5 over Arapahoe) as well.
Regis Jesuit also finished the season undefeated against Colorado teams, with its only loss coming to Torrey Pines on a spring break trip to California.
The Raiders had plenty of offense as junior Jake Taylor contributed a hat track, senior Anders Erickson scored a pair of goals and had an assist and junior Reed Babcock scored a goal to go with two assists as 11 different players recorded at least one point in the game.
But this one was a championship game where the tone was set on defense.
Determined for a different result after it allowed 13 goals to Kent Denver when the teams played in the regular season, senior goalie Matthew McCarthy and Regis Jesuit’s defense held the Sun Devils to their lowest goal total.
“It was unbelievable compared to the first time we played these guys,” Maly said. “We made some adjustments and we were just playing as brothers, playing as family.
“We relied on everyone one around us and we had faith in everybody. It’s unreal.”
Taylor, Regis Jesuit’s leading goal scorer, has appreciation for good defense when he sees it and he saw it from his team.
“The defense was great all year long and they had a fantastic game,” Taylor said. “It was great to have them keep getting us the ball so we could score.”
The offense proved potent with four goals in the opening half and six in the second half.
When the Sun Devils pulled within 5-3 midway through the third quarter, Regis Jesuit responded with a three-goal flurry to end the period as Will Desmond, Patrick Roe and Alec Breeden all scored.
Kassal won the opening faceoff of the fourth quarter and fed Taylor for a goal five seconds into the final period that all but sealed it.
When the final seconds ticked off the clock, Regis Jesuit players threw gloves, sticks and helmets high into the air and raced to celebrate in the goal with McCarthy.
Several Raiders jumped into the stands to celebrate the championship with a large cheering section and went back again once they got their hands on the championship trophy.
“It’s just such a great feeling, we had such a great year,” said senior attackman Will Dennen, who also won a state championship in boys tennis in the fall.
“We have a lot of seniors on the team and the leadership this year has been unreal. We really bonded and it turned out be a great way to finish out my high school career.”
For those returning, another championship isn’t out of the question given the bar the Regis Jesuit program has established.
“I love it, we have great chemistry and a great atmosphere, so we could be back,” Taylor said.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Sports Editor. Reach him at 303-750-7555 or [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasport. FB: Sentinel Prep Sports
(1) REGIS JESUIT 10, (2) KENT DENVER 4
Score by quarters:
Kent Denver 1 0 2 1 — 4
Regis Jesuit 3 1 4 2 — 10
First quarter: Regis Jesuit — Charlie Maly (Patrick Roe), 11:48; Kent Denver — Max Hewitt, 9:13; Regis Jesuit — Reed Babcock, 6:59; Regis Jesuit — Anders Erickson (Babcock) 3:00
Second quarter: Regis Jesuit — Erickson (Will Dennen), 9:36
Third quarter: Regis Jesuit — Jake Taylor (Babcock), 11:06; Kent Denver — Payton Lester (Ryan Bergner), 7:23; Kent Denver — Bergner, 6:52; Regis Jesuit — Will Desmond (Bohdan O’Shaughnessy), 6:02; Regis Jesuit — Roe (Vinny Mata), 3:31; Regis Jesuit — Alec Breeden (Erickson), 0:31
Fourth quarter: Regis Jesuit — Taylor (Joe Kassal), 11:55; Kent Denver — Bergner, 3:40; Regis Jesuit — Taylor, 2:02