Fueled by a pair of senior captains who will now have five championship rings, Cheyenne Mountain put an exclamation point on its lacrosse dynasty Monday at Peter Barton Stadium.
Cheyenne Mountain beat Erie, 10-9, in double-overtime for its third straight Class 4A title and fourth overall in the program’s fifth consecutive championship appearance.
Senior attack Wyatt Furda had a hat trick, while senior goalie Matty Kelleher held off Erie’s high-powered attack in OT. Both players were also captains on the Red-Tailed Hawks hockey teams that repeated as 4A champions over the past two winters — Furda a forward and Kelleher a defenseman.
“We cemented (the dynasty) tonight,” said Furda, a Colorado College lacrosse commit.
Junior attack Logan Mika put home the game-winner with 55 seconds left in the second OT after Erie stormed back from a five-goal deficit at halftime and had the Red-Tailed Hawks on the ropes down the stretch.
“The past few years, it’s been us and Erie at the top of 4A, so we knew it was going to be a great game and we knew they were going to have an answer in the second half,” Furda said. “It was our job to respond. They punched us a bunch of times, but good teams respond, and that’s what we did.
“In net, Matty’s a superstar — an amazing first half and then two saves in overtime, both on kids who are going Division I. He stood his ground.”
Mika’s golden goal came off a deflection; he got the rebound right in front of the net and put in the winner on a bouncing shot through the bottom shelf.
“That was a feeling that truly just took the breath out of me,” Mika said. “When I got the ball, it was like I blacked out. I knew I needed to get it off quick because the entire Erie defense was closing in. I went for the back-hand shot, and once I saw the net flicker, it was an unbelievable feeling.”
The Red-Tailed Hawks’ four titles are now tied with Arapahoe and Regis Jesuit for the third-most in CHSAA boys lacrosse history behind Kent Denver (five) and Cherry Creek (seven).
Cheyenne Mountain dominated the first half behind two goals from Furda and a brick wall performance by Kelleher, a Quinnipiac University commit. The Red-Tailed Hawks also controlled tempo, physicality and time of possession.
But Erie came out inspired in the third quarter and quickly flipped the script from blowout to instant classic with a string of three consecutive goals by Cooper Riley, Kooper Anderson and Davis Mundy. Cheyenne Mountain’s Kevin Papa stopped the run with his second goal of the evening midway through the third.
Then, Furda’s assist to Stefan Dingbaum with eight seconds left in the third gave the Red-Tailed Hawks a 7-3 lead. But just when Cheyenne Mountain got comfortable again, Ashton Karch won the faceoff and raced down to score with 1.7 seconds left, cutting the lead to 7-4 entering the fourth.
Erie, which averaged 13.72 goals coming into the game, continued to pressure Kelleher and the Cheyenne Mountain defense in the final frame. The Tigers were hungry for their first title.
Cheyenne Mountain got goals from Kasey Freeman and Furda to give them cushion. But it wasn’t enough to avoid overtime. Mundy had another goal, while junior captain Liam Connors had four goals in the fourth, including the equalizer with 12.2 seconds left. Kelleher made three saves in the final 90 seconds before Connors beat him on the bottom left shelf.
But it was Cheyenne Mountain who won the war of attrition in overtime, with Furda headlining the pressure and Kelleher and the defense warding off Erie’s momentum on the other end.
“(Furda and Kelleher), those guys know the moment,” 13th-year Cheyenne Mountain head coach Mike Paige said. “And our team doesn’t fold under (pressure) — they’re comfortable being here. That’s why we play 5A teams like Cherry Creek. That’s why we went back East and played the 6A champion in Virginia. We want to be on our heels because we know there are going to be those times when we have to overcome, and we can’t fold. We showed (that mettle) today.”
Cheyenne Mountain finished 16-3 and the Southern League champion, while Erie was 15-4 and the Northern League champion.
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