Rained out: PSD boys lacrosse team can't match Arapahoe as season ends in 5A semifinals

·4 min read

The barrages came fast and furious to start each half.

Unlike the rest of a breakout season, the Poudre School District boys lacrosse team didn't have the answers.

No. 6 seed Arapahoe blitzed the seventh-seeded Lobos from the start, ending PSD's season with an 11-5 win in the Class 5A semifinals on a rainy Thursday night at University of Denver's Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

Arapahoe (13-5) scored three goals in a dominant first quarter and piled up six more for a decisive 9-3 lead after three periods.

"They got three quick, but we played a good second quarter," said PSD senior defender Grant Schachet. "Third quarter, we couldn't get our plays and they did. It's tough to stop a hot team when they're rolling like that."

It was one of those games where seemingly nothing went right.

The Warriors had revenge on the mind from a scrimmage loss to the Fort Collins districtwide team before the season, and it showed in a ferocious defensive effort.

A constant, steadily increasing rain made playing conditions slick, but there were simply few passing or shooting lanes for the taking anyway.

"That's a team that's in these types of games every year, and they were more dialed in and the atmosphere didn't faze them," Lobos coach Will Cantwell said of Arapahoe. "We weren't prepared for how fast they were at all three levels."

It would have been a familiar feeling for PSD opponents, given the squad's top-level defense and goalkeeping all season.

Not for the Lobos themselves, though, tying a season-low in goals after averaging 12 scores per match. They got the offense going late, but some missed opportunities on sloppy catches in the first quarter cost them not just goals, but a stake in the game.

"We had a great first possession we had scripted and again later in the quarter," Cantwell said. "They like to get a lead early and play at their pace, controlling the ball with drawn-out possessions. If one of those shots fall, maybe it's a different game."

But even the wet conditions and dreary result couldn't put too heavy a damper on a season that catapulted this PSD program back on the statewide map.

The Lobos reached the state semifinals for the first time in at least 15 years, got their first playoff win since 2013 and pulled off an attention-grabbing upset of lacrosse power Cherry Creek in the 5A quarterfinals.

Statement win: PSD district lacrosse team upsets No. 2 Cherry Creek on walk-off goal

There was also the 8-0 mark in league play and conference title. A 16-2 final record and a more inclusive full district name incoming after playing under the Rocky moniker for the last six seasons.

Players knew the season had potential, but it wasn't until a 10-0 start that it fully clicked.

"We knew we had a good team in preseason, but I don't think we realized how good we were going to end up being," Schachet said. "It's definitely gratifying to see the growth."

The roster will have to replace some great senior defenders like Schachet, Tanner Stewart and Will Scott, plus midfield's Austin Selvage, who scored the walk-off winner at Cherry Creek.

But a deep unit of experienced scorers like junior leaders Adyn Cover, Luke and Paden Chastain, and freshman phenom Colton Pawlak are all back.

"We have a great core group to keep building," Cantwell said.

And Cantwell, a clear difference-maker on the sidelines, is in just his second season with PSD after a successful stint at Thompson Valley.

Under his direction, the Lobos won more games this spring than they had in the previous two full seasons combined.

It's started with a culture shift, embracing an egalitarian team structure with a focus on the relationships off the field.

"The culture change from freshman year to now is completely different ... Even after a loss like that, we're trying to build each other up," Schachet said. "It's night and day."

The players insist it's a bond that goes beyond their cohesion on the field.

It's staying for hours after team dinners. Winter practices in sub-zero temps or six inches of snow. Summer camping plans together. And yes, playing in a near-downpour.

"These are lifelong friends, and I couldn't say that about every team," Schachet said. "It's pretty cool to have friends you can remember a run like this with for the rest of your life."

Conference champs: Chastain twins, senior defenders lead PSD boys lacrosse's program renewal

Chris Abshire is the sports and stats content coach at the Coloradoan. Contact him at ChrisAbshire@coloradoan.com. Support his work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.

This article originally appeared on Fort Collins Coloradoan: Colorado lacrosse playoffs: Arapahoe ends Poudre School District’s season