A tough season for Mullen boys lacrosse ended in similar fashion.
The Mustangs fell 15-4 to host Cherokee Trail in Aurora at Legacy Stadium on Wednesday evening in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.
It dropped the Mustangs to 8-8 in a season that had more than its share of highs and lows.
They won a league championship, made the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and fought to overcome multiple forfeits as the result of inner turmoil.
On the other hand, the three forfeits stymied the program at midseason and certainly affected the Mustangs’ seeding, which had them at No. 22 in a 24-team field.
And this was after a COVID-related 2021 saw them go 8-2 with no playoffs.
Still, head coach Matt Cawley offered no excuses.
“All things being equal,” he saud, “the forfeits killed us. We could have been (seeded) higher, but at the end of the day you have to play who’s in front of you.”
Mullen was seeded No. 22, Cherokee Trail No. 11
CT grabbed control early and often, and held it.
”I pictured a very different game,” Cawley said.
Chris Bougie scored twice for Mullen. Nicky Bond and Ethan Karr each had one.
Noah Wanja turned in 17 saves.
“It was their first playoff game,” Cawley said of his players. “None of them have seen a playoff game.
“I’m super-proud of this team. (The players) fought repeatedly. They never gave up and that’s why we were here.”
CHEROKEE TRAIL 15, MULLEN 4
Mullen goals – Chris Bougie 2, Nicky Bond, Ethan Karr.
Mullen assists – None.
Mullen saves – Noah Wanja 17.
In Highlands Ranch, the Mustangs girls fell behind substantially and couldn’t recover in a 21-6 loss at Valor Christian in the first round of the 5A playoffs.
Mullen ended 5-8.
The Eagles, the No. 2 seed, built a 15-1 bulge.
The Mustangs were the No. 15 seed.
VALOR CHRISTIAN 21, MULLEN 6
Mullen 1 5 -- 6
Valor Christian 15 6 -- 21