Cheyenne Mountain's boys' lacrosse team decided that playing a close game for one half was enough Wednesday.
The eighth-seeded Indians reeled off six consecutive goals in the second half to pull away in a 15-6 win over No. 9 Alexander Dawson in the opening round of the Class 4A state tournament. Seniors Casey Rothstein, Mitch Paige and Sam Sheridan combined for 13 goals for Cheyenne Mountain, which has won eight of its last nine.
Using a potent transition offense and constant pressure, the Indians (11-5) broke open a close game that was 6-4 at the half by outscoring Alexander Dawson 7-1 in the third. Alexander Dawson (11-5) made it an 8-5 game with 6:07 left in the period, but Rothstein scored five seconds later and the Mustangs would find the net just once more in the final 18 minutes.
"Our clutch guys stepped up," Cheyenne Mountain coach Mike Paige said. "We saw a tendency with their goalie, and we said, 'Let's take advantage of that tendency.' Our team started feeling the energy and started feeling like they couldn't be stopped at that point."
The Indians scored the game's first three goals before the Mustangs got on the scoreboard with 4:17 remaining in the first. Alexander Dawson, which entered the game 7-0 on the road, tied the game with 5:35 left in the first half thanks to a pair of Michael Paquette goals, but Cheyenne Mountain scored three of the next four, including a goal by Mitch Paige with 0.6 left on the clock.
Rothstein scored three of his game-high five goals in the third, and the senior trio put three in the net in less than a minute late in the quarter. Sheridan's goal with 15.2 seconds remaining made it 13-5 Indians, and he scored the team's two fourth-quarter goals to finish with four.
"We really got into a flow, started playing together and doing well and found the back of the net," Rothstein said of the third-quarter run. "We dominated in the midfield, and our defense was shutting them down and we just came together. As long as we're playing together as a team, that's when we're playing our best games."
It was only the second loss in seven games for the Mustangs.
"This wasn't our day, and today they were the better team," Alexander Dawson coach Peter Devlin said. "Their transition offense is pretty deadly, and they got it going a little bit."
Next up for Cheyenne Mountain is a Friday quarterfinals showdown against top-seeded Wheat Ridge (13-4), a 19-1 winner over Pueblo South. The Indians' leader knows his team will have to play its best to topple the Farmers, who will move to 5A next season.
"We're going to look at it as the state championship," Mike Paige said "We couldn't control the seed, but this is our opportunity for us to go in there and just play. We wanted to be in the finals against them, but it's just going to happen prematurely.
"We're going to go up there and battle and see what happens."