Keeping the ball away from the nation's leading goal-scorer presents its own challenges, nevermind having to accomplish it during inclement weather throughout.
Top-ranked and defending champion Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village)
didn't let a steady rain distract it from its focus to neutralize All-American Emma Lazaroff
, as the Bruins scored a 25-15 victory against Centaurus (Lafayette)
in the girls lacrosse state semifinals Saturday at the University of Denver. It was the second year in a row that Cherry Creek (17-0) eliminated the Warriors (13-5) in the final four.
The Duke-bound Lazaroff, who entered with 137 goals, managed six goals and two assists, but four of the goals came after the Bruins had fashioned a 20-9 lead 10 minutes into the second half. Lazaroff had seven goals in the regular-season meeting between the teams, a 21-18 victory by Cherry Creek.
"We spent a ton of time practicing to make sure Emma didn't get the draws; she's their most powerful player," said Cherry Creek senior Mara Bandt-Law
. "You win the draws, and it's almost a direct parallel to who wins the game."
Lazaroff scored two of the first four goals for Centaurus as it took a 4-2 lead less than 7 minutes into the game, before Cherry Creek assigned sophomore midfielder Blair Sisk
to mark her. Lazaroff did not score again until 13 minutes, 40 seconds remained in the second half. Sisk also added five assists offensively.
The Bruins led 8-7 with a little more than 9 minutes left in the first half, when they effectively sealed it. They scored eight consecutive goals to close out the half, including three by Tori Link
. Overall, Bandt-Law paced the Bruins with seven goals and two assists, while Anya Gersoff
added six goals and five assists.
"Once we get possession, we know what to do once we get it on the attack," Bandt-Law said. "The only time we have a lapse is when we don't have the ball."Sarah Brown
contributed four goals and an assist to aid Centaurus, which was satisfied with the effort, if not the outcome.
"It was a shock to get to the semifinals, so I'm definitely proud of my team," Lazaroff said. "It's just kind of a bummer way to end the season."The second semifinal looked much different from the first,
as Air Academy (US Air Force Academy)
won a decidedly defensive affair, 13-12, to knock off Kent Denver (Englewood)
by a goal in the final four for the second year in a row.
"My team was able to play great defense to allow me to take over," said
Kadets senior Erin Todd
, who scored seven goals and an assist. "I have to credit my defense. Defense wins
championships, that's what it's all about."
Neither team led by more than two goals until Todd scored her sixth goal with 6:38 remaining in the second half. The margin again was three goals when Todd tallied her final goal with 4:23 showing, but Kent Denver made a final charge.
First, senior Lizzie Strazza
gave the Sun Devils a boost by scoring 45 seconds later, then Lucy Dikeou
made it a one-goal game with 1:36 remaining. Kent Denver (15-3) made a couple of quality advances toward the Air Academy goal and keeper Kenzie Baer
in the final 90 seconds before the Kadets eventually gained possession and ran out the clock.
"We knew that they were going to start pressing a lot, and we had to
keep our composure like last year," Todd said. "That was the key to getting the
The third-seeded Kadets are looking forward to a rematch against the defending champions at 7:30 p.m. May 23 at DU. Cherry Creek won last year's title game 16-11. This will be the third championship meeting in the past four years between the programs.
"We are excited for that. We've been rivals ever since 2009 when we won (against Cherry Creek)," said Todd, who was a member of Air Academy's championship team in 2009 as a freshman. "We respect them, we respect their talent, and we are ready to put up a fight." Kaley Holmes
added two goals for Air Academy, while Kent Denver was led by Dikeou, Lucy Mower
and Catherine Ellis
, who each had three goals.MaxPreps Colorado girls lacrosse state brackets