MONUMENT - Nearly one year ago, Lewis-Palmer suffered a demoralizing, blowout loss at the hands of Sand Creek that virtually knocked the Rangers out of 4A state playoff contention.
On Tuesday, the Rangers returned the favor on their home turf and took a major step in getting back to the postseason for the third time in four seasons.
German foreign exchange student Jasper Linnewedel and Hank Parsons each netted three goals, Jake Haderle added a goal and two assists, and Lewis-Palmer broke open a close game with seven unanswered goals in the second half in a 10-1 drubbing of Sand Creek at Don Breese Stadium.
"We didn't want to be in the same spot that we were last year," Rangers senior defender Andrew Allen said. "We weren't going to wait to see if they were going to give it to us. We just took it into our own hands and took it. "
The top three Pikes Peak Athletic Conference teams at the end of the regular season earn automatic berths in the playoffs, and Lewis-Palmer (8-3-2, 3-2-1) entered the game tied for third with Discovery Canyon.
The Rangers started strong, dictating their high-pressure tempo early. Linnewedel forced a turnover in the first minute, leading to a pair of quality scoring chances on close-range shots by Monte Anderson and Parsons that were both stopped by Scorpions goalie Chandler Douglas.
Linnewedel finally broke through 11:22 into the game when the junior pounced on a loose ball deep in the box after a corner kick deflected off a Sand Creek defender.
Eight minutes later, Allen scored on a sharp angle from the left corner of the box, but Douglas made nine saves in the first half and kept the Scorpions (6-7, 2-4) in the game.
Still, the Rangers, who outshot the Scorpions 17-3 in the game's first 40 minutes, weren't discouraged after letting a few opportunities slip away.
"We knew 2-0 wasn't going to hold this team," Allen said. "We had a few things to clean up, but we knew we were the better team in the first half. We ended up capitalizing on more chances in the second half."
Parsons made it a 3-0 Rangers lead when he beat new Sand Creek goalkeeper Alfonso Sanchez to a loose ball at the top of the box and flicked it into an open net.
Sand Creek senior Robert Brandt scored his first varsity goal with 29:11 left when he took a loose ball, advanced toward the penalty area and lofted a shot over the outstretched hands of Rangers goalie Jack Clark that cut the deficit to 3-1.
"We have a solid base, but no bench," said Scorpions coach Jeremy Tafoya, who had only three substitutes available. "We don't have a lot of depth, and that hurt us here."
In a span of 6:09, Lewis-Palmer found the back of the next four times to erase any doubts. Parsons, Azam Ibragimov, Anderson and Haderle scored for Lewis-Palmer, then Linnewedel added two more, sandwiched around Parson's third to end the night.
"We finished fifth (in the league) last year, and our major objective was to get into the playoffs this year," Rangers coach Brian Barkey said. "To get closer to third says a lot about the hearts of these kids. Last year, we were fighting for a spot but failed. Our leadership is different this year, and this is really a good group of guys who are very skillful and creative, too."