Top-seeded and undefeated Valor Christian and upstart Highlands Ranch played in the Class 5A semifinal doubleheader of the state boys lacrosse tournament on May 15, but both Highlands Ranch schools lost at Legacy Stadium.
Kent Denver, last season's state runner-up, scored with 50.8 seconds remaining to hand the Eagles a 12-11 setback and their first loss of the season after 17 wins.
No. 10 Highlands Ranch, which upset No. 7 Monarch and No. 2 Arapahoe, to advance to the semifinals, didn't score until there was 9:17 left in the game and was ousted after a 14-3 loss to third-seeded Cherry Creek.
Valor coach Josh Hoffman, who was hired to replace John Grant Jr. in January, spent a lot of time shaking hands and hugging his players after the loss.
The players didn't go through much of a transition period under Hoffman, who took over a program that won back to back 4A state championships in 2016 and 2017 and has now has compiled a 77-15 record in five seasons.
“I probably have a different mindset about coaching than a lot of guys,” Hoffman said. “My job as a coach is to develop and their job is to love each other. I am very proud of them. Kent didn't do anything we didn't expect.
“With a brand new coach and the first year of being in 5A, I think we made a statement. Seeing the way our guys stepped in, fought and played all season, again, I couldn't be more proud of what they accomplished this year. Valor is an awesome school and it's been a very smooth transition. It's been drinking from the fire hose, of course, but it's been unbelievable.”
Senior Lance Tillman, who had three goals and seven points in the semifinal game against Kent, led the Eagles in scoring with 39 goals and 34 assists.
Highlands Ranch finished with a 12-6 record. Senior Logan Naves had 35 goals and 60 points to lead the Falcons in scoring.
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