Alex K.W. Schultz
Special to Colorado Community Media
This one was too good for these two teams to not play each other more often.
In their first meeting since 2012, and in what was the Colorado High School Activities Association’s game of the week, the Douglas County and Ponderosa boys lacrosse teams went at it for 48 minutes May 1 at Douglas County School District Stadium.
These two programs may compete in different classifications and in different leagues, but their first tilt in over a decade sure had the look and feel of a peppery rivalry — it was physical, it was back and forth, and it had a big-brother-small-brother kind of feel to it, the 5A Huskies welcoming their 4A friends from over the hill.
Douglas County took the lead with more than half the fourth quarter gone, but the Mustangs responded with two goals in the final three and a half minutes to win 6-5.
“Any time we play anyone on the east side of Douglas County, it’s a rivalry game,” Ponderosa coach Andrew Trietley said. “We view it as a rivalry game because the towns are so close to each other and the social circles of the kids all intertwine. So this was a good win.”
Rivalry or not, it was wildly entertaining.
Moments after Ponderosa’s Camden Stanley scored in traffic to even the score at 4 apiece, Nolan Case responded with a goal of his own to put the Huskies on top 5-4 with 5 minutes, 16 seconds remaining.
With 3:31 left and a man down for Douglas County, Stanley leveled the score at 5-all when he corralled a pass from Garrett Katrana in the X and slung it into the cords.
Less than a minute later, and with Ponderosa in possession again, Caden D’Lallo passed the ball forward to Ryder Richardson, who turned and stuck it in the corner of the net for a 6-5 Mustangs lead.
The Huskies forced a turnover with 21 seconds left, but Connor Jenkins’ last-second shot rolled just past Ponderosa’s cage.
“It was an adrenaline rush. It was crazy,” Richardson, who also scored the game’s first goal, said of the sequence leading up to his game-winner. “I saw the ball coming. I was like, ‘I’m going for it. I don’t care if I get knocked on my butt. I’m going to go for it.’ And it worked out. [D’Lallo and I] have been working together for a while, so it was pretty much instinct. It was really cool.”
After Richardson’s first-quarter goal, Katrana scored 13 seconds into the second period to extend Ponderosa’s (9-5, 1-3 4A Southern League) lead to 2-0.
Then, in the blink of an eye, the Huskies (8-4, 5-2 5A League #1) ripped off back-to-back-to-back goals — courtesy of Max Kroening, Ben Hasselback and Kai Mathews — to grab a 3-2 advantage. That all happened in just 1:06.
Katrana’s catch-spin-and-shoot goal from the left side tied the score at 3 apiece right before both teams headed into the locker room for halftime.
The third quarter was largely dominated by both teams’ defenses. Recording the lone goal in the period was Owen Colton, who scored from about 5 yards out after receiving a pass from Connor McAnally. That goal set up the back-and-forth fourth quarter.
“They stuck with it,” Trietley said of his group. “It was a great win.”
Said Richardson of playing from behind most of the fourth quarter but ultimately finding a way to win: “I think we really came together as a team. We’re family. It was close, but we finished it.”
Douglas County goalie Carter Holvick, who entered the game boasting a Colorado-best 77% save percentage, saved 70% (14 of 20) of the shots thrown at him by the Mustangs. Ponderosa goalie Doran Trietley had an exceptional game as well, denying 81% (22 of 27) of the Huskies’ shots.
Both teams will now await their postseason fates. The 5A and 4A state playoff brackets are set to be released May 7.
“We still have a lot of things we can clean up to get a first-round win in the playoffs,” Trietley said, “and so we’re just hoping to build every day and keep getting better.”