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Girls lacrosse: Mead checks off another box, knocks out Heritage in the 4A semis

May 15—ENGLEWOOD — When Mead girls lacrosse won the Class 4A state championship last season, its run through the postseason resembled the type of easy drive one might experience on the Mount Blue Sky Scenic Byway.

This year, the Mavericks' run through the postseason has resembled more of a hike up Longs Peak, especially from the quarterfinals on. On Wednesday night at Englewood High School, they took one big leap closer to the Class 4A summit with an 11-6 victory over Heritage in the state semifinals.

Junior midfielder Lucy Connors and senior midfielder Sierra Ryan, naturally, were the ones driving that engine. Throughout the first half of the contest, they operated as the well-oiled machine that they've spent the past three years greasing.

Connors ended the game with seven scores to outshoot the entire Heritage roster on her own accord, adding eight draw controls. Ryan, in assisting all four of Connors' first four goals, ended with two of her own.

"I'm very, very competitive and really love to win," Connors said. "I think towards the end, it's like, we've worked so hard that if I don't give it my all here, there's no point in everything that we did before, all the hard work that we put in there."

The Eagles began the game running the gamut on the Mavericks, taking as much as a 4-2 lead at the end of the first quarter, before Mead knocked off the collective rust and began running its beautiful offensive machine again.

Connors netted three straight goals through the second frame to give the Mavericks a slight 5-4 advantage at the half.

"These last couple of games, we haven't been coming out super strong in the first quarter," head coach Katie Bergmann said. "I think it's just because we are so excited. We know our sets are going to work. We know that we have options that we just jump the gun a little bit. It's really just been working on getting them to play calm, good lacrosse and realize possession is key. As long as the ball is in your stick, that's the safest place for it to be. And I think anytime you're on a big stage, you have those added nerves."

When the safety valve popped off in the second half, the Eagles couldn't stop the torrent that ensued.

Mead closed the game out with a 6-2 run and never gave the Eagles a chance to breathe until the final buzzer blared. Now, the Mavericks are headed back to the Class 4A state championship game, set to be played at the University of Denver on Friday night, against No. 2 Evergreen.

They experienced a few bumps along the way to get there — namely a 14-12 regular-season loss to 5A contender Fairview and a tough, 11-8 test from Cherokee Trail in the quarterfinals — but they're right back to the place where they took their program just a year earlier.

Fighting for another state crown.

"We've talked a lot about these underclassmen and these new players that we pulled up from JV not feeling the pressure of having to defend a state championship," Bergmann said. "You always say it's a new team, and it's a new year, and it's OK to reach the top of the mountain. We're so excited we did it the first year, and realizing that this mountain is going to look different and the climb to get there is going to look different. That has been so true this season.

"I think last season, we had a little bit more firepower. This year, we've had to have people step up into roles that they didn't have last year. We're just making sure that we understand people are gunning for us, but not putting that pressure on ourselves and realizing that this is a new year and a new team and a new mountain to climb."