Triple trouble: Fairview girls lacrosse secures its spot in the 5A state championship

May 14—ENGLEWOOD — The last time Fairview girls lacrosse set foot on the turf at Englewood High School, during the 2022 Class 5A state semifinals, the team left heartbroken. Valor Christian knocked it out in overtime to thwart its chances at a state championship.

On Tuesday night, in the same place and position, the third-seeded Knights mended that wound with a 10-8 victory over No. 2 ThunderRidge. Now, they'll prepare to face No. 1 Colorado Academy for Class 5A state glory on Friday night at the University of Denver.

"It feels good," head coach Kelsey Sheridan said. "Honestly, I have to pay tribute to the alums that have been in our program and helped build it up. Two years ago, we had such a strong team. We really thought we could win states that year. The girls last year just were super resilient and still focused on getting back to this spot. All those girls that have come before this team helped get us here."

The stadium blared AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" every time the Grizzlies scored, but it was Fairview that brought the boom. Their three top scorers, naturally, kept the wheels turning.

Junior twins Tessa and Gabriella McCollester, along with junior Lucy Michaels, gave the ThunderRidge defense fits all night. A strong effort from Grizzlies goalie Serena Reiter couldn't save them.

Tessa and Gabriella spent much of the first half trading goals before ending the game at four and three, respectively. Michaels sent the other three scores flying into the cage. The breakthrough had been a long time coming for the McCollesters, who began playing the sport 10 years ago.

"We do really push each other, but we also do kind of get on each other's nerves a lot," Tessa said. "We're very competitive. If she scores a goal, you're like, 'Oh shoot, I got to even it out.' So you got to go score a goal. It also just really helps having someone there that knows you so well."

Gabriella credited the team's success to this year to a selfless, tight-knit mentality and execution.

"We've been missing one thing to get us (there), and I think we found that piece to get us to state," she said.

The Knights trailed just once, at 2-1 four minutes into the action, but quickly reclaimed the advantage and never let it go. They struggled to shake the Grizzlies in the first quarter, but every thwarted shot on goal dripped more and more of the offensive accelerant they were looking for.

After ThunderRidge tied the game at 4-4, with 8:33 left in the first half, the Knights lit a match and exploded. The three primary suspects worked systematically to lay a 9-5 foundation late into the third.

A valiant effort from the Grizzlies fizzled out in the end, leaving the Knights with one last box to check off. Sheridan believes they have what it takes to go all the way.

"I think that this team has been so focused on themselves and just having a lot of fun," she said. "We'll watch the game, but it doesn't matter who we play. I just think the momentum is in our favor. They're just making the most of the opportunity to play in the state finals."