Clear Creek falls late to Raiders

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Second-half rally not enough as Golddiggers drops to 0-2 following a 14-10 loss to Rangeview

On a sunny Saturday morning in mid-March, the setting couldn’t of been more perfect for the Clear Creek Golddiggers lacrosse team to play host to the Rangeview Raiders. Both teams struggled in their respective season openers and looked to avoid falling into an 0-2 start on the year. For Clear Creek, much more would be at stake, like an opportunity to get into the win column for the first time in over a year and the opportunity to do it in front of their home fans.

Despite a valiantly fought effort that saw the deficit as close as 11-10 with 2 minutes left in in the fourth quarter,  the Golddiggers fell to the Raiders, unable to score late and ultimately losing 14-10.

With only one senior and a coach in his second game transitioning back into the program, it was difficult to predict what to expect from the home team Golddiggers. A first quarter which saw Rangeview up 5-2 by the time it ended, primarily due to a 17-second span that saw Rangeview score twice, left an all-too-familiar feeling with the crowd. 

But ask anyone close to the program and they will tell you, this is a different team from seasons past.

Jamey Kittleberger’s defense, along with the backing of first-year defensive coach and former CCHS Lacrosse player Brandon Thoennes, would hold strong in the second quarter, allowing only two goals to get past first-year lacrosse goaltender Tyler Robertson. Robertson, a sophomore who held Player of the Game honors in Clear Creek’s first regular season game against Lutheran, would make 20 saves on the afternoon.

“He did phenomenal, he kept us in the game,” Kittleberger said about Robertson’s play between the posts. “The reason the game was as close as it was, was because of [Tyler’s] saves.”

With 4:23 left in the second quarter, Ty Judge broke Clear Creek’s eight minute, three second scoring drought by burying a shot into the back of the net. Ten seconds would be all the home team needed to score again, thanks to team captain and eventual player of the game Zach Schell, bringing the difference down to a 7-5 Rangeview lead at halftime.

In the third, Judge and Schell would add two more goals to their game totals, both unassisted fast break shots. Judge would have three goals total on the day with Schell having a team high at four. 

“Zach is incredible,” confessed Kittleberger after the game. “He’s an animal. Zach never quits. There would be time I would see him come up with the ball and there would be three or four black jerseys surrounding him.”

When the clock set at 12:00 to start the fourth and final quarter, Clear Creek looked up at the scoreboard and saw a hard-fought 10-8 deficit with plenty of time. But every young team, especially with just a 38-hour layoff between the first two games of their season, has one Achilles heel if any and typically it rears its head at the end of grueling back and forth games.

“Stupid, simple mistakes being made because we were tired. Catching and throwing are the most basic fundamentals of this game,” explained Kittleberger. “I think we were so exhausted, we weren’t even playing catch.”

Rangeview would control most of the latter half of the fourth quarter, outscoring Clear Creek 4-2, with three of the four goals coming with just 2:04 remaining in the game. 

“We got a little tired and fundamentals fell apart,” admitted Schell after watching Rangeview score a volley of goals as time was winding down. “We have to keep the team work going.”

Clear Creek will look to get into the win column on today when they host Thomas Jefferson at 4 p.m. Afterwards, the lacrosse team takes the road to face off against Eagle Valley on Friday at 4:30 p.m.