Lax: Aspen boys in state semifinal vs. Wheat Ridge |

Lax: Aspen boys in state semifinal vs. Wheat Ridge

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

One more step.

The Aspen High School boys lacrosse team is one step away from playing for the state championship.

One more step.

The Skiers, riding the wave of a stirring 8-7 overtime comeback victory over Battle Mountain in the state quarterfinals last weekend, will take on No. 1 seed and defending state champion Wheat Ridge at 5:30 p.m. today at Trailblazer Stadium in the west Denver suburb of Lakewood.

“The win over Battle Mountain was a testament to the fact we never gave up,” Aspen head coach Mike Goerne said. “We didn’t panic. We knew if we kept playing our game, the score will take care of itself.”

The score, for the record, was 8-7 Aspen, in overtime.

The win, including a patient rally from a big deficit, sent the 15-2 Skiers into the state semifinals for the first time in program history.

“We know we have a lot of time to make adjustments,” Goerne said of his experienced team and key moves the Skiers made in the second half against the Huskies, who had beaten the Skiers during the regular season.

Not this time.

Not with a berth in the state championship game on the line.

Now that they’ve advanced to today’s semifinal against the reigning state champs, Goerne said the Skiers will stick to their script.

One more step.

“Our strategy is to work on our game, play our game,” Goerne said. “We want to execute … play good, fast lacrosse.”

Defensively, he said the Skiers will have to play “solid, team defense. We have to be fundamentally sound.”

Wheat Ridge enters today’s Class 4A semifinal game with a 14-4 record, coming off a 10-5 victory last weekend over No. 6 seed Cheyenne Mountain.

Wheat Ridge beat Denver South 19-1 in the first round, one of many lopsided games the Farmers won this season.

Their losses came to Colorado Class 5A schools Cherry Creek and Highlands Ranch and a pair of California high schools — Coronado and Pacific Ridge (Carlsbad).

The Farmers average 12 goals per game with a 5.8 goals-against average.

Senior John Roach led the offense along with junior Dima Makarov. The two dominated goals and assists for the No. 1-ranked Class 4A team.

Roach potted 50 goals this season with 37 assists for 87 total points. Makarov scored 43 goals with 31 assists for 74 points.

Tyler Knott was a 22-goal scorer for the Farmers, who are coached by Chris Knott.

“We’re looking for our offense to keep the momentum,” Goerne said of the high-scoring Aspen offense, which averaged 14 goals per game this year. The Skiers are the highest scoring team in the Class 4A tournament field.

“We want to … take the right shots at the right times,” the Aspen coach said.

Tyler Tick, who scored the overtime game-winner at Battle Mountain, is Aspen’s leading scorer with 70 goals and 21 assists for 91 points.

Teammate Ryan Fitzgerald scored 62 goals with 22 assists.

And Harry Ferguson has a team-high 42 assists this season along with 23 goals.

Add 35 goals from John Heaphey, and the Skiers are in the state semifinal game.

They opened the state playoffs with a dominating 20-7 victory over Evergreen in a game played in Aspen.

Then came the one-more-step win at Battle Mountain.

The second boys state lacrosse semifinal today will feature a similar ski town vs. Denver suburb feel.

Steamboat Springs (15-2) will play Ponderosa of Parker (14-2) in today’s semifinal, scheduled for a 7 p.m. start today at Sports Authority Field in Parker

The Sailors and the Mustangs, like the Skiers and the Farmers, are trying to take one more step into Saturday’s state championship game.

One more step.

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