The Air Academy Kadets' boys' lacrosse team had been down this road before. Throughout their six-game losing streak, the Kadets more often than not jumped out to an early lead only to tank in the end.
Nobody quite understood it, and as coach Ron Garcia said, "We've tried everything to fix it."
On Friday, however, at least for a game, things seemed to be getting better for last season's 4A finalist. After blowing four leads in the past three weeks, they put up 11 goals in the first half and served up three quarters of shutout defense as the Kadets (3-7 overall, 1-0 4A Pikes Peak League) never relinquished the lead in their 14-2 win over St. Mary's (4-4, 0-1) at the K-Dome.
Jake Thornally led the way with four goals, while Travis Work and Mitchell Miller each added three more in the team's first win since mid-March.
"It's nice to finally get this win. But mainly, it was nice to see this kind of effort," Garcia said. "We've tried lots of things to turn things around. Our new goal is to play all four quarters."
They did it with a nice mix of offense and defense.
First, the Kadets' offense came and took over immediately. Thornally and Work each scored a pair of goals in the first 2:50, as Garcia's bunch scored five in the first quarter and six more in the second.
"We were tired of losing," said Thornally, who capped off his scoring with a behind-the-back goal from 10 feet out early in the second half. "We've been practicing hard to get out of this and we didn't let up."
Neither did the defense. After letting up five goals in Tuesday's 11-8 loss to Valor Christian, the Kadets' D got stronger as the game went on, surrendering just four shots in the final three quarters.
Meanwhile, Kyler Kasten and Wes Moran each scored in the first quarter for the Pirates, who've lost three games in a row.
"They don't know how to play sometimes," St. Mary's coach Ike Anderson said. "I think they think they can get down five goals and just come back. We're a young team and still building. We have lots of growing up to do."