AURORA | The Cherokee Trail girls lacrosse team picked up a win to open the Class 4A state playoffs for a second straight season as the 14th-seeded Cougars defeated 19th-seeded Denver North 15-12 Tuesday evening at Legacy Stadium.
Junior Kyla Bieker scored six goals and juniors Aubrey Benton and Kyra Shipp added three apiece for Cherokee Trail, which improved to 9-7 on the season. Bieker — whose goal total included her 100th career score — also had three assists on a nine-point day and sophomore Abigail Vanzant had a goal and five assists as well.
“It was a hard-fought win,” Bieker said. “It was a team effort for sure.”
Coach Blake Macklin’s Cougars move into the second round, where they will visit third-seeded Evergreen at 6 p.m. May 11. Evergreen (9-6) — the 4A West division champion — had a bye in the opening round.
Against a Denver North team playing its first playoff game, Cherokee Trail came out and scored the first four goals of the game from four different players before the Norse steadied the ship and got to within 8-7 at halftime.
“Coming out and setting a tone was important for our team,” Bieker said.
The Cougars saw their lead shrink to 13-11 with just over eight minutes left, but Bieker scored and junior Kylee Hayes fed senior Sage Sorrells for a score for some breathing room.
Freshman goalie Sophia Liley came up with seven saves for Cherokee Trail.
Macklin was pleased with how his team responded when things got tight and how they overcame Denver North’s style of play.
“You have to hand it Denver North and they way they played,” he said. “They were scrappy on ground balls and any of those 50-50 balls. They played really good defense on us in transition and that’s what kindof got us for awhile. When we settled down our transition and got possession, we were able to get some goals out of that.”
A good number of seniors graduated from last season’s team that fell in a tight game on the road at Aspen last season in the second round, but those that remain can draw on that experience the second time around.
“Evergreen is going to be a tougher team than we saw in the second round last year,” Macklin said. “We are going to have to come with our ‘A’ game. We have some road playoff experience under our belts, so I think that will come into play.”
Courtney Oakes is Sentinel Colorado Sports Editor. Reach him at email@example.com. Twitter: @aurorasports. IG: Sentinel Prep Sports
Class 4A girls lacrosse playoffs (1st round)
May 9 at Legacy Stadium
(14) CHEROKEE TRAIL 15, (19) DENVER NORTH 12
Score by halves:
Denver North 7 5 — 12
Cherokee Trail 8 7 — 15
Denver North goals: Reese Ripley 6, Elsie Cost 3, Grace Busken, Sophie Busken, Lily Fleener. Cherokee Trail goals: Kyla Bieker 6, Aubrey Benton 3, Kyra Shipp 3, Lorelei Gearity, Sage Sorrells, Abigail Vanzant. Cherokee Trail assists: Vanzant 5, Bieker 3, Kylee Hayes 3, Sorrells. Cherokee Trail saves: Sophia Liley (19 shots on goal-7 saves)