Warriors lose tough battle

Arapahoe's bid for state girls lacrosse title ends with loss to Creek

Tom Munds
Arapahoe's Kate Englert (13) drives toward the goal as the Warriors mount an attack in the May 14 state 5A girls lascrosse quartervinal gam against Cherry Creek. Englert was one of four Warriors who each scored two goals but Cherry Creek won the game, 11-10.
Tom Munds
Midfielder Alexis Lindharde (8)maneuvers by a Cherry Creek defender as Arapahoe mountes an attack during the May 14 state Class 5A girls lacrosse quarterfinals. Lindhardt scored a pair of goals for the Warriors but Cherry Creek won the game, 11-10.
Tom Munds
Arapahoe goalie Brooke Engel (29) deflects a shot on goal as teammate Kendall Cooke (24) moved in to help during the May 14 state Class 5A girls lacrosse playoff game against Cherry Creek. Englel made a number of saves and the Warrior defense played well but Cherry Creek won the game, 11-10.

The faces of the Arapahoe High School girls players reflected disappointment and sadness May 14 as they left the field after an 11-10 loss to Cherry Creek in the state quarterfinal game played at Littleton Public Schools Stadium.

“We knew it would be a tough battle,” Warrior coach Stacey Birlson said after the game. “We beat Cherry Creek for the first time ever 12-11 during the regular season and scored the winning goal with seven seconds left in the game. Today, we were within one goal of tying the score with three seconds left but it didn't happen.”

A sun-drenched field greeted the teams as they took the field to the cheers of fans from both schools as they lined up to start the May 14 quarterfinal game.

Both teams played a slower pace, deliberate style by passing the ball around as teammates cut through defenders in an effort to get an open shot at the goal.

Arapahoe scored a goal with just under three minutes left to break a 3-3 tie so they had a 4-3 advantage at halftime.

Cherry Creek came out early in the second half, mounted an aggressive attack to take a 6-4 advantage. The teams both scored more goals and Bruins held an 11-8 advantage with 5:33 left in the second half.

Arapahoe didn't toss in the towel or quit pressing the attack as it scored two unanswered goals to close the score to 11-10 with three seconds left.

The Warriors mounted a balanced attack with four players, Isley Walker, Kate Englert, Alexis Linhardt and Alexy DeHarb scoring two goals each.

After the game, Coach Birlson said her team played a deliberate style against Cherry Creek.

“We passed the ball around and took our time because we knew both teams were focused on ball possession,” she said. “We used passes to control the ball. All the players were moving and we continued passing until we could get the ball to a player who had chance for a good shot on the goal.”

The coach said the Warriors' defense played very well and goalie Brooke Engel was a key.

“Brooke made some great saves and helped keep the score close,” she said.

Birlson said although Arapahoe lost the quarterfinal game, the girls should be proud of all they accomplished.

“This is a great group of girls and they played their hearts out today and all season,” she said. “This is by far the best season in the history of Arapahoe girls lacrosse. We won the league title, we beat Cherry Creek so our team can look with pride on all they accomplished.”

The Warriors finished the year with a 12-3 regular season record and were league champs, unbeaten in seven games.

Arapahoe had a potent offense, scoring an average of 15 goals a game, while the defense held opponents to less than seven goals a game.

Kate Englert was the team scoring leader with 45 goals and 18 assists. Teammate Kienan Linhardt had 38 goals and 13 assists and Alexy DeHarb scored 33 goals and dished off 18 assists.

Brooke Engel was in goal for the Warriors and she made 126 saves for her team.