boys lacrosse coach Eric Seelbach had a good feeling about his team coming into the 2018 season.
A year ago the Tigers missed out on the playoffs, but came away with the program's first winning season. With the team's three-headed scoring monster of Evan Woods
, Kegan Hufford
and Jacob Brunner
all sophomores, the future looked bright.
But Lakewood has taken it a step further through the first month of the spring season. The Tigers jumped out to a 7-0 start, most recently completing a spring break sweep during a California road trip.
"It's talent. We've had a number of boys who have been with us and made the team as freshmen," Seelbach said. "This is now, for some of them, their third year. This is the most talented group I've ever had, and it feels like they're buying in and a lot of our vision is starting to pay off."
Lakewood isn't the only Class 5A Jeffco League program finding success early. Dakota Ridge (Littleton)
is also off to a 7-0 start. The Eagles finished 12-3 in 2017 but missed the postseason after a fourth-place league finish.Columbine (Littleton)
, which placed second in Jeffco last spring and upended Colorado Academy (Denver)
in the first round of the playoffs, is sitting at 5-1 after a furious rally fell just short in an 11-9 loss to defending state champion Cherry Creek (Greenwood Village)
on Wednesday night.
"It's exciting just knowing the growth of the sport. I was around in the late ‘90s when it was added as a varsity sport, and all the top programs were kind of to the east and south," Seelbach said. "The talent is becoming widespread in the city, and it's very exciting for the growth of the sport in Colorado. It's really exciting for what this season holds for Jeffco teams."
Woods led Lakewood with 41 goals as a sophomore, and Hufford and Brunner each added 40 goals. Woods leads the team – and 5A – this spring with 25 goals and 17 assists in six recorded games, with Hufford and Brunner going for 15 each. Another junior, Pierce Holley
, is playing for the Tigers for the first time and has 20 goals.
"He's absolutely picked up the stick and looked like he's played for the last two years," Seelbach said. "He's developed amazing chemistry with those other three boys on offense and allowed us to take off and soar immediately this year."
Sophomore goalie Clayton Guevara
has been strong in the net after taking over the team's starting job as a freshman last year.
The Tigers had to face Columbine early in the season last spring and took their lumps in a 16-5 loss. But Lakewood played league champion Lewis-Palmer (Monument)
well in the finale before falling 10-7, and the team's other three league losses came by one goal each.
"A lot of our messaging going into this year is to play your game," Seelbach said. "If we come out and play the way we can play, I think we're going to be hard to beat. I think a lot of that sunk in for the returning boys."
Lakewood takes on Dakota Ridge on April 11 at Trailblazer Stadium, and matches up with Columbine on April 18. The Rebels had six all-state players in 2017, including leading scorer Gabe Mein
, who notched 31 goals and 42 assists as a junior.MaxPreps Colorado boys lacrosse leaders
With roughly a month remaining in the regular season, here is a quick look at the rest of the state (returning all-state players are based on current MaxPreps.com rosters):Class 5A
Defending state champion:
Cherry CreekReturning all-state players: Reed Babcock
, Jr., Regis Jesuit (1st team); Gavin Beilman
, Sr., Columbine (2nd team); Gunnar Carlile
, Sr., Heritage (2nd team); Nick Darrow
, Sr., Columbine (1st team); Jake Govett
, Sr., Mountain Vista (2nd team); Brock Harmon
, Sr., Columbine (2nd team); Gabe Mein, Sr., Columbine (1st team); Caden Meis
, Jr., Legend (2nd team); Nick Ringhofer
, Sr., Regis Jesuit (2nd team); Patrick Roe
, Sr., Regis Jesuit (1st team); Tim Saffold
, Sr., Kent Denver (2nd team); Mustang Sally
, Jr., Denver East (1st team); Henry Savage
, Sr., Cherry Creek (1st team); Nate Surd
, Sr., Columbine (2nd team); Marcus Trujillo
, Jr., Castle View (2nd team).Overview:
Lakewood's Woods and Holley were two of five players in 5A with at least 20 goals headed into play Wednesday night. Lewis-Palmer's Garrett Ziegler
and Jake Heintzelman
of Douglas County (Castle Rock)
each had 21, and Castle View's James Steinke
had 20. Douglas County has three players with at least 17 goals. … Woods and Brunner lead 5A in assists with a combined 33. Heintzelman has 16. … Castle View (Castle Rock)
was just 5-10 a year ago, but the SaberCats are off to a 6-0 start. … Cherry Creek's only setback this spring came March 21 when the team fell 13-12 to Regis Jesuit (Aurora)
in a rematch of the 2017 title game. Senior Henry Savage
led the team with 18 points going into Wednesday's game with Columbine. … Raiders junior Jake Taylor
scored five goals in the Raiders' victory over Cherry Creek and has 18 on the year. Senior Anders Erickson
has 10 goals and 12 assists for Regis Jesuit, which had its only defeat come in California to Torrey Pines. The Raiders defeated Mountain Vista (Highlands Ranch)
on Wednesday night. … Arapahoe (Centennial)
, which made the semis last season, improved to 6-1 with a 9-8 victory over Kent Denver (Englewood)
on Wednesday. Four players had scored at least 11 goals going into the game, led by junior Jake Hall
's 14. … Rock Canyon (Highlands Ranch)
started 4-0, with sophomore Jacob Rimkus
leading the Jaguars with 13 goals. … Chaparral (Parker)
played Creek tough in an opening loss, and has won four in a row since then. Sophomore Jake McIntyre
owns 14 goals.Class 4A
Defending state champion: Valor Christian (Highlands Ranch)Returning all-state players: Aidan Abram
, Jr., Dawson School (1st team); Greg Bilek
, Jr., Thompson Valley (2nd team); Ryan Burdi
, Jr., Green Mountain (1st team); Nic Crosbie
, Sr., Evergreen (2nd team); Jack Egan
, Sr., Cheyenne Mountain (2nd team); Sage Gardner
, Jr., Dawson School (1st team); Brennan Grass
, Sr., Golden (2nd team); Max Hanson
, Sr., Bishop Machebeuf (2nd team); August Johnson
, Sr., Cheyenne Mountain (1st team); Charlie Morrow
, Sr., Battle Mountain (1st team); Eric Pacheco
, Jr., Valor Christian (1st team); Jake Pacheco
, Sr., Pueblo West (2nd team); Davis Petersen
, Sr., Steamboat Springs (2nd team); Gavyn Pure
, Sr., Dawson School (1st team); Jack Shams
, Sr., Dawson School (1st team); Jackson Soderquist
, Jr., Valor Christian (1st team); Mark Studer
, Sr., Conifer (2nd team); Lance Tillman
, Jr., Valor Christian (1st team); Sean Traynor
, Sr., Valor Christian (1st team); Hunter Watts
, Sr., Dawson School (2nd team).Overview: Dawson School (Lafayette)
has finished as the runner-up to Valor Christian in each of the previous two seasons, but the Mustangs return four first-team all-state talents. Reigning Player of the Year Gavyn Pure has 14 goals and 16 assists through five games, and senior Jack Shams has scored 10 goals. Dawson outscored its first five opponents by an 87-20 margin. … Valor dropped to 3-3 after a narrow loss to Cheyenne Mountain (Colorado Springs)
on Wednesday. Senior Austin Saupe
leads the Eagles with 10 goals. … Cheyenne Mountain is 6-1, with the only loss coming in California. Four players had at least 10 goals going into the Valor game, led by senior Jack Egan's 12 goals and 10 assists. … Evergreen
missed the postseason last spring, but the Cougars are off to a 7-0 start. Senior Nic Crosbie leads the state with 26 goals. … Thompson Valley is 6-0 after defeating Green Mountain (Lakewood)
on Wednesday. Junior Greg Bilek had 21 goals and 14 assists going into the game. … Ponderosa (Parker)
won its first five games, with three players scoring at least 10 goals in the first four. Senior Ian Baldwin
leads the team with 15 and junior Braden Snyder
had 10 goals and 13 assists in the first four games. … Seniors Vale Hildebrand
), Finn Bailis
) and Davis Petersen (Steamboat Springs
) each have 22 goals on the year. Max Hanson of Bishop Machebeuf (Denver)
leads 4A with 18 assists.