Thanks to a schedule delay because of the coronavirus pandemic, field hockey state championships were crowned sixth months apart instead of the usual 12.
Both of those state championships went to the same team in Regis Jesuit, which also supplies the vast majority of selections on the 2021 Sentinel Colorado All-Aurora Field Hockey Team, which is picked by the Sentinel in conjunction with balloting of local coaches.
Coach Spencer Wagner’s Raiders not only won the state championship with a 1-0 victory over Colorado Academy at Denver’s All-City Stadium — where the final returned to after it was played at Stutler Bowl in the spring — but they finished an undefeated season in the process. Regis Jesuit finished 17-0-1 and extended an unbeaten run to 26 games, which stretches back to a 5-2 loss to Cherry Creek in the second game of the spring season.
In the championship game victory, the only goal was fittingly scored by the Raiders’ goal leader in each of the past two seasons — senior Katie Loftus — on a pass from senior Ellie Johnson, the team’s assist leader. Outstanding junior goalie MaryKate Berg posted another shut out to make sure the goal stood up to win the program’s third state title.
On the short turnaround, Regis Jesuit came into the season minus some key performers that graduated, but interest in the sport at the school had increased tremendously since the spring season and resulted in boosted numbers and depth.
Returning Loftus, who scored 13 goals in the shortened 2020 season to pace the team, and Johnson — whose seven assists were a team-high as well in the spring — certainly helped the offense, which piled up a state-best 69 goals, an average of 3.8 per game.
Loftus scored at least on goal in 14 games and racked up 19 on the season to finish with 39 in a three-year varsity career, with the biggest coming in the championship game when she streaked to an open spot and rifled a pass from Johnson into the goal. Loftus also set up plenty of goals with 11 assists that put her second on the team and contributed to a total of 49 points that per third in the state.
Johnson (who was selected as the Colorado High School Activities Association’s Player of the Year) assisted on the overtime goal scored by graduated Cate Lord that netted Regis Jesuit the spring title and she delivered a pinpoint pass to Loftus for the other title game-winner, which marked her team-leading 13th assist. She finished her career with 24 assists in three varsity seasons and for good measure scored 11 goals as a senior, three more than her previous two seasons combined.
Senior Elsa Pater scored two goals in occasional minutes in the spring, but her game went to a new level as a senior. She became the third Regis Jesuit player in double figures with 12 goals (which included three multi-goal games), racked up four assists and also served an important role in starting penalty corners for the team.
Senior Paris Corporon in the midfield also had a big impact with eight assists to go with five goals, while senior Lily Castiglione followed up a spring in which she was the postseason hero with a multitude of goals with another strong season that included five goals.
Regis Jesuit’s offense hit on all cylinders, but it didn’t really need to given the presence of Berg in the goal and the defense in front of her.
The Raiders not only shut out the second-most potent offense in the state from Colorado Academy not once, but twice, and allowed just five goals on the season. Only once did a team score more than one goal in game against Regis Jesuit and that was a two-goal game by Liberty in the second half after the Raiders had built a 4-0 lead.
Berg has been outstanding in her two seasons of varsity play, as she has allowed a paltry 13 goals in 28 games, which includes a five-goal anomaly in a loss to Cherry Creek early last season. She was at her best against high-scoring Colorado Academy as she made 15 saves in a regular season shutout win and 11 more in the title game.
The best friend for Berg came in the form of a backline that had several parts, but were boosted by the regular play of seniors Sophie Storey and Makayla Au along with junior Charlotte Ford.
While the trio helped keep dangerous play in front of the Regis Jesuit goal to a minimum, they also played key roles in transitioning play from defense to offense and each picked up an assist for their efforts.
Note: It was a tough season for Aurora’s two other programs, Grandview and Smoky Hill, which combined to win one game between them and it came when the Wolves topped the Buffaloes. Grandview’s Marley Barrows and Lindsay Ryan and Smoky hill’s Suma Mudapalli earned CHSAA honorable mention all-state nods.
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at [email protected] Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
2021 SENTINEL COLORADO ALL-AURORA FIELD HOCKEY TEAM
Forward — Katie Loftus, sr., Regis Jesuit; Elsa Pater, sr., Regis Jesuit; Midfield — Lily Castiglione, sr., Regis Jesuit; Paris Corporon, sr., Regis Jesuit; Ellie Johnson, sr., Regis Jesuit; Defense — Charlotte Ford, jr., Regis Jesuit; Sophie Storey, sr., Regis Jesuit; Makayla Au, sr., Regis Jesuit; Goalie — MaryKate Berg, jr., Regis Jesuit
Marley Barrows, sr., Grandview; Emily Bradac, jr., Regis Jesuit; Charli Coles, sr., Grandview; Sydney Cornell, soph., Regis Jesuit; Carly Kennedy, jr., Regis Jesuit; Kelsey Kerr, sr., Smoky Hill; Suma Mudapalli, sr., Smoky Hill; Lindsay Ryan, sr., Grandview; Darian Smith, fr., Smoky Hill