For all of the adversity, inner strife and problems Mullen boys lacrosse has faced in 2022, one other reference must be included.
The Mustangs have proven resilient.
On a pleasant Wednesday evening at Brother Bernard Kinneavy Field at De La Salle Stadium, the Mustangs fought off a very game Lewis-Palmer 10-9 to take control of Class 5A League No. 1.
Mullen moved to 5-7 overall, 4-0 in the loop. They are up a half-game in 5A No. 1 with three to play.
“Every single person on our team was aware of how important this game was,” senior Max Thomason said.
And he showed it – his faceoff work was excellent as Mullen won 18 of 22 in the category.
“I was trying to initiate fast breaks for our offense,” Thomason said.
Said Mullen head coach Matt Cawley: “Max was unbelievable and single-handedly controlled the game for us.”
It was back-and-forth for most of the match – Mullen grabbed command early, the Rangers rallied to lead at halftime, the Mustangs enjoyed another surge and Lewis-Palmer responded.
Tied at 8 down the stretch, Nicky Bond scored to break the tie on a highlight, behind-the-head score off his own rebound and Luke Dempsey found the back of the net for what proved to be the game-winner at the 4-minute mark.
Even though the Mustangs, while shorthanded, gave up goal with 2 minutes to play, their ability to retain possession sealed it.
And defensively, Mullen held the Rangers scoreless in the third quarter.
“It was tough,” Cawley said. “The second quarter is always our worst quarter, for whatever reason … every game, it’s our worst. But we kept coming and we stuck to our game plan. And this is big for us in the league championship.”
Dempsey and Ethan Karr, both juniors, each scored three goals. Bond, who added three assists, scored twice as did the very active Chris Bougie.
Here’s what awaits Mullen to win league – at Douglas County in Castle Rock, Friday, April 29, 6:30 p.m.; vs. Eaglecrest on Monday, May 2, at Stutler Bowl in Greenwood Village, 6 p.m.; and its home, regular-season finale against Smoky Hill, Wednesday, May 4, 6 p.m.
MULLEN 10, LEWIS-PALMER 9
Lewis-Palmer 2 4 0 3 -- 9
Mullen 2 2 3 3 -- 10
Mullen goals – Luke Dempsey 3, Ethan Karr 3, Nicky Bond 2, Chris Bougie 2.
Mullen assists – Nicky Bond 3.
Mullen saves – Noah Wanja 8.
Face-offs – Max Thomason, Dom Flores and Jaxon Heil won 18-of-22.