Aspen High boys lacrosse returning to state
EDWARDS — And still the champion.
Aspen boys lacrosse repeated as Mountain Conference champions on Saturday with a 10-5 win over Battle Mountain in the league-title game in Edwards.
The defending 4A state champions appear to be getting some of their swagger back as the playoffs start Tuesday.
“It means everything because our motto, coming into this season, is legacy,” said Aspen’s Burke Daily, who had a hat trick. “As defending state champions, we want to defend our legacy. Defending our title, especially against our rival, is huge. All the seniors, we’re so proud.”
That is two years in a row that the Skiers have beaten the Huskies in the Mountain League title game.
Throw in Aspen’s comeback against Battle Mountain during the state quarterfinals back in 2014, and everyone Huskies’ black and gold would probably never like to see anyone in Aspen colors ever again.
Battle Mountain led early with Tucker Morrow scoring the only goal in the first quarter.
The Huskies and Skiers traded goals to start the second before Aspen’s Henry Godfrey evened it at 2-2 with 6:04 left in the first half.
Daily scored the next two and the Skiers were up 4-2 at the half.
As has been a trend for most of the season, Battle Mountain (7-8) took some penalties, which stymied its attempt to come back. In fairness to the Huskies, who have been hit by everything this season but plague and pestilence, they were without their leading scorer Charlie Morrow, who was down with the flu.
And Aspen’s defense was stingy.
“It’s really exciting for these guys and me,” interim Aspen coach David Miller said. “It’s a really big step from where we started the season. My seniors showed some great leadership and stepped it up. This is the first step.”
The Skiers will learn their playoff seeding Monday with their first-round games Tuesday.
Saturday was also senior day for Battle Mountain.
Ky Caradonna, Ben Walter, Chase Haynes and Kevin Nichols took their bows.
The $64,000 question is whether this was the finale for the Huskies this season.
At first blush, a 7-8 record might not be playoff worthy.
But looking at last year’s bracket, Denver South (6-9), Summit County (6-9) and Air Academy (5-10) all made the playoffs in 2015.
Strength of schedule is also listed in the CHSAA bulletin as a consideration for postseason selection.
Given that Battle Mountain has played seven squads currently in CHSAA’s top 10, that might help its cause.
“We keep talking about the adversity we’ve had this year between losing two of our starting middies in the middle of the season to losing our top points guy, Charlie, out with the flu,” Huskies coach Jerry Nichols said. “It’s one thing after another. I feel like if we can catch a break, we’ll have a chance at the playoffs.”
Aspen (9-6) is in and likely will be home Tuesday as long as the Skiers are not paired against one of 4A’s three other league champions — Valor Christian, Dawson or Englewood.
The 16-team state playoff bracket comes out Monday.
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Trailing to Aspen early in Sunday’s championship, the American Raptors came back to lead 24-15 at halftime and held a two score lead well into the second half before the Gents took over the match. This was the Gents’ 22nd championship at Ruggerfest, a tournament that dates to 1968.