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Columbine boys lacrosse gives No. 1 Regis Jesuit a scare

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By Alissa Noe

LAKEWOOD — In Colorado high school lacrosse, most teams might be intimidated to start out their season against No. 1-ranked defending state champion in Regis Jesuit. Good thing Columbine isn’t most teams.

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On Friday night at Trailblazer Stadium, the Rebel boys — ranked No. 9 in the CHSAANow.com preseason poll — came out hot and heavy-handed against the Raiders in their opening matchup of the 2019 season but eventually fell to Regis 11-10 in sudden-death overtime.

Last year, Regis ended Columbine’s run in the 5A state playoffs with an 8-2 win in the semifinals before winning another state title.

Throughout most of Friday’s game, though, the Rebels held the upper hand. Across the first four and a half minutes of play, they dominated on offense and maintained almost complete control of the ball, working up a 3-0 lead before the Raiders could respond.

By the end of the first quarter, they led 5-1.

“It’s a good place to start for us. I think it’s good for our guys,” head coach Henry Sulzbacher said. “It was just that we wanted to go out and show out and let the scoreboard take care of itself, come out flying.”

By the midway break, the Raiders had closed the gap a little bit, 5-3.

Coming into the year, many in the lacrosse community questioned Columbine’s ability to bounce back after the loss of stellar goalie Gavin Beilman and its No. 1 attacker in Gabe Mein. Beilman finished the season with a .612 save percentage (87 saves), and Mein netted a team-high 37 goals and

32 assists.

The Rebels didn’t look like they missed a beat in their home opener.

“It was awesome,” junior midfielder Tanner Hollens said. “No one in the state knew that we were going to be in this position, going up 5-3 in the first half and then ending in overtime. It just shows that when you come out fast, it benefits in the end.”

Goalkeeper Teagan Simons played a huge role in keeping the Rebels in the game, especially in the second half. On offense, Hollens and senior middy Leo Grossman both scored hat tricks (three goals each) followed by Dean Hives (two goals), Taylor Gustafson and Benjamin Wilson (one

goal apiece).

In the second half, the Raiders made quick work to get themselves back into the game. Following a quick Columbine goal just 43 seconds into the third quarter, Regis’ Jake Taylor and Reed Babcock combined for three goals over a three-minute period to tie the game up at 6.

From there on out, the teams exchanged scores until three minutes remained in regulation, and the Raiders held a 10-8 advantage.

Sulzbacher called a strategic timeout that proved highly beneficial in the end.

Enter Hollens.

At the 2:23 and 1:57 marks, Hollens netted the two scores — both from about 20 yards out — the Rebels needed to tie the game and force overtime. It didn’t work out for Columbine in the end, however, as Regis’ Dylan Morrill scored the go-ahead goal just 1:52 into the first period of free lacrosse.

“It just came down to the wire, and when we got that timeout, Coach was like, ‘Just shoot,’” Hollens said. “I didn’t want to be selfish, but it kind of came to the point where I had to be. I took shots like I should have done all game, and they went in.”

After its impressive showing, Columbine moved up to No. 7 in the 5A poll released Monday. The Rebels will look to earn their first win in their next matchup, slated for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday against Arapahoe at Trailblazer Stadium.