Aspen High boys lacrosse to host Cheyenne Mountain for spot in final
Who: No. 6 Aspen vs. No. 7 Cheyenne Mountain
What: Class 4A state semifinals
When: 5 p.m. Wednesday
Where: Aspen High School turf fieldCost: Adults are $9, students are $7. The first 75 students get in free.
The players bid farewell to their home turf exactly a week ago in a 10-5 win over Evergreen in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament. Never did the Aspen High School boys lacrosse team believe it would return home for the state semifinals Wednesday evening.
“That is the best thing that’s ever happened, to have two senior days. I couldn’t think of a bunch more deserving kids,” AHS coach David Miller said. “It’s a unique situation. I think my boys, my leaders, are ready to go. They seem like they are clicking right now and I guess we’ll see what happens.”
The Skiers, seeded No. 6 in the state tournament, host No. 7 seed Cheyenne Mountain at 5 p.m. Wednesday on the AHS athletic field. The winner will play either No. 1 seed Dawson School (16-1) or No. 4 seed Golden (14-3) in the state championship game Friday at Mile High Stadium in Denver.
Cheyenne Mountain (13-4 overall) is no stranger to the state semifinals, having made it here the past three seasons, as well. Not once in those three games have the Indians come away with the victory.
The last time Aspen (14-2 overall) made it to the semis was in 2015, the year it went on to beat Valor Christian in the state championship game, 17-12. This year’s senior class would have been freshmen that season, and a few of them played varsity and made the trip to Denver for that game.
“It’s still pretty fresh in my memory. It’s still probably going to be there for a little while,” AHS senior R.J. Peshek said. “It just made me want to be back there. Just the environment, the energy, it was awesome. Now that it’s my senior year, it’s like why not go back and get that same experience?”
Aspen was the top overall seed in 2015 and beat No. 5 seed Dawson School in the semifinals that spring. Valor Christian, which won the 4A state title in both 2016 and 2017, was the No. 2 seed in 2015 when it lost to Aspen in the final. A No. 8 seed this spring, Valor Christian lost 12-9 to Dawson School in the second round.
For the Skiers to be hosting Wednesday’s semifinal game as the No. 6 seed is incredibly rare. The opportunity came about when Cheyenne Mountain upset No. 2 seed Thompson Valley on Friday in the state quarterfinals, 8-6, and the top remaining seed gets to host the semifinal games. Aspen knocked off No. 3 seed Battle Mountain in Friday’s quarterfinals, 9-8.
Although, neither Aspen nor Cheyenne Mountain has the look of a team to be taken lightly. The Indians will bring a special challenge to Aspen, as their zone defense is something the Skiers aren’t used to playing against.
“That will be unique. We have been preparing for it,” Miller said. “They likely will have a handful or so of all-state players. They are not very big, but they are very fast. We will just have to keep up with them. We will have to play with our head and with our feet.”
The Skiers are hoping for a raucous crowd Wednesday against Cheyenne Mountain. An extra home game is something this group of 10 seniors wasn’t planning on receiving, but it could provide a big boost in getting them to Mile High on Friday.
“To be able to play on this field one more time is pretty special, especially for a semifinal game,” AHS senior Jordan Hornburg said. “Our team definitely feeds off of the crowd and the noise. That helped us (at Battle Mountain). The soccer girls came out and were there for a while and we were able to get some momentum. It will definitely be a big factor for us.”
Note: The team has requested the game be a “white out,” so AHS fans are asked to wear their Skier white. Tickets are $9 for adults and $7 for students. The first 75 students get in free.
Despite being a big star, Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen has frequently connected with the young AVSC athletes while training at Aspen Highlands over the years.