It was all about late-night dramatic victories May 17 at Englewood High School’s Randy Penn Stadium. No. 1-seeded Castle View and No. 2 Mead both scored 1-goal win over the last two Class 4A girls lacrosse state champions — Evergreen and Green Mountain — to punch their tickets to the title game.
Castle View scored its game-winning goal with 17 seconds against defending state champion and No. 5 Green Mountain to grab a 10-9 victory in the first semifinal. Mead put in its game-winning goal with 5 seconds remaining versus the 2021 state champion and No. 3 Evergreen in a game that ended at 10:50 p.m. due to a more than an hour and a half lighting delay.
(1) Castle View 10, (5) Green Mountain 9
Castle View senior Evie Tanella set the Sabercats back to the Class 4A girls lacrosse championship game with a game-winning goal.
Tanella scored the eventual game-winning goal with 17 seconds to play in the first state semifinal. Top-seeded Castle View came away with a 10-9 victory over Green Mountain — 4A defending state champions.
“It was really stressful,” Tanella said about Green Mountain tying the game 9-9 with 61 seconds left in regulation-time. “On the next draw I just knew that had to be our ball. The draw is all that mattered to me.”
Tanella was able to win the draw against Green Mountain sophomore Avery Freedman. Tanella eventually got the ball back and rifled a shot past Green Mountain senior goalie Gretchen Hoffman with 17 seconds left to give Castle View a 10-9 lead.
Green Mountain (12-6 record) had one last chance to tie the game after getting control on the next face-off, but the Rams couldn’t get a shot on net before time expired.
“It’s hard to be back at the same field you were at last year and we didn’t make it happen,” Castle View coach Samantha Silverman said about the semifinal loss to Thompson Valley a year ago. “We held it together this year which was awesome. We’ve been working a lot of the situations we might see here. We were able to hang onto the ball for three minutes. The last two years helped us be prepared for this.”
Castle View jumped out to an earlier 5-1 lead in the first 15 minutes of the opening half. The Sabercats (17-1) never trailed, but the Rams rallied pouring in three goals in the final 10 minutes.
Freedman, who finished with four goals on the night, put one into the back of the net with 1:01 left to tie the game at 9-9.
“They put everything on the field today,” Green Mountain coach Gia Lombardi said. “I’m so proud of them. Especially how we started this season. Making to semifinals with a 16-player team. I’m so proud of them.”
The Rams had their Cinderella story run to the 4A state title last year, also as the No. 5 seed. Green Mountain defeated the No. 4, No. 1 and No. 2 on its way to its first girls lacrosse state title.
Castle View also has some rich state history. The Sabercats were the state runner-up in 2021 as the No. 10 seed and advanced to the semifinals last season.
“We have been talking about that all season,” Silverman said of the Sabercats’ run to the title game in 2021. “It is very different being that No. 1 seed. We have kind of let that go and just played our game.”
Tanella had a team-high four goals and junior Tessa Boehm added a trio of goals for the Sabercats. Senior Riley Schultz had a pair of goals and senior goalie Gabby Goodwin made a huge save with 13:30 left in the second half that kept Castle View in the lead.
“We are such a better team now and it is really just mental,” Tanella said. “Last year we were so far in our heads and almost against each other. This year we are all a team. We work well together and we are a family. This is a true team.”
(2) Mead 13, (3) Evergreen 12
Mead midfielder Allie Hartman literally dropped the ball before putting in the game-winning goal into the back of the net against Evergreen.
With the semifinal tied 12-12, the Mavericks (15-2) held the for nearly two minutes after winning a key face-off. Mead coaches call ‘Raptor” for the final play, a play for Hartman — senior at Silver Creek High School who’s mascot is the Raptors — to drive and score.
Hartman started her drive with about 10 seconds to play. She dropped the ball for a split second before regaining it and getting past Evergreen senior Averi Gardner for an open look.
“We got the look that we wanted. I take pride in my drives,” said Hartman, who scored four of the Maverick’s six second-half goals. “It worked out.”
Hartman and junior Sierra Ryan carried the load offensive for Mead in its 12th straight victory.
“We have so many sets,” Mead coach Katie Coleman said. “We always say that if we call out something that they don’t feel comfortable with that’s OK. We like to have options for them.”
The Mavericks used the right options after trailing by as many as three goals in the first half against the Cougars (11-7). Evergreen held a 6-5 lead with 7:37 remaining in the first half when the game went into a lightning delay.
It took nearly two hours for the lightning and driving rain to clear, but Mead made the most of its time in the locker room.
“With the postseason you never know how much time you have left,” Coleman said. “This group loves each other so much it was just bonus time for them to hangout with each other.”
Mead is in its first year with a girls lacrosse program.
It was the second meeting this season between the Cougars and Mavericks. Mead took a 13-8 win two weeks ago on May 4. Hartman led the way for the Mavericks in the first meeting with a game-high five goals.
“We knew we would have to face (Evergreen) again,” Coleman said. “I’m really good friends with Rachel Sanford (Evergreen coach). She has been a part of my lacrosse journey and coached me. She is a phenomenal coach and it’s hard to beat a great team twice.”
It was the final high school game for Evergreen seniors Averi Gardner and Bella Reece, who both will be heading to Boulder to play for the Buffaloes next season. Gardner and Reece were both key parts of the Cougars’ 2021 state championship team.
Evergreen won CHSAA’s first-ever 4A girls lacrosse state title in 2021 dominating the rest of the field with double-digit wins in all three state tournament victories.
Gardner finished with over 200 goals and 100 assists in three seasons. Reece missed the majority of games this season due to injury and gutted out playing during the postseason.
The championship game Friday will be a rematch from the season-opener for both Castle View and Mead on March 9. The Sabercats edged the Mavericks 7-6.
“Friday isn’t going to be easy, but we’ll be better prepared for it,” Coleman said of rebounding after falling behind early against Evergreen and going through the long delay.
Dennis Pleuss is the sports information director for Jeffco Public Schools. For more Jeffco coverage, go to CHSAANow.com.