Air Academy boys just miss home game as boys' and girls' lacrosse pairings released

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Photo - St. Mary's midfielder Thomas O'Connor attempts to check Air Academy midfielder Braiden Schweitzer as he passes the ball during the Air Academy and St. Mary's boys lacrosse game at Grace Center for Athletics on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette.
St. Mary's midfielder Thomas O'Connor attempts to check Air Academy midfielder Braiden Schweitzer as he passes the ball during the Air Academy and St. Mary's boys lacrosse game at Grace Center for Athletics on Wednesday, April 20, 2016. Photo by Stacie Scott, The Gazette.

Air Academy won't get home-field advantage or more than a day to plan for its first-round state match against Golden in 4A boys' lacrosse.

That's the price the Kadets pay for finishing thousandths of a point behind the Demons in the final RPI standings.

Air Academy learned its fate Monday morning when the playoff brackets were released for boys' and girls' lacrosse.

It was the first time Ratings Percentage Index - a computerized formula - dictated postseason placement for the sport.

"That's the way the cards fall sometimes," said Air Academy coach John Mandico, whose ninth-seeded Kadets (9-6) will travel to No. 8 Golden (10-5) on Tuesday. "That's out of our control."

The state's association mandated that round one games were to be finished by Wednesday, Mandico said. The time, date and location are dictated by the host team.

In this case, Mandico said he understands why the Demons would want to play as soon as possible.

Golden, which finished .006 points ahead of Air Academy in RPI, hasn't played since April 26. Meanwhile, the "banged-up" Kadets have played four games in that same span.

"They've been sitting around two weeks and they probably wanted to get in the game as soon as possible," Mandico said. "On the other side of the coin, we could've used another day to prepare."

In the 4A bracket, four games are slated for both Tuesday and Wednesday. Cheyenne Mountain (11-4), the No. 3 seed, will also play on the earlier date when it hosts No. 14 Ponderosa (7-8).

Indians coach Mike Paige said the quick turnaround benefits the hosting team.

"For us, being a high seed, it works," he said. "If you were a lower seed the travel would be a lot more difficult. But for us, the season paid off and the benefit of that is people have to come to us."

In 5A, Lewis-Palmer (14-1) finished on the right side of the 8-9 matchup and will host Chaparral (10-5) Wednesday.

After losing the first game of the season, the Rangers won 14 straight to earn their first postseason berth since 2009.

"The fact we made the playoffs this year is great," L-P coach Dan Mullins said. "And really great that we secured a home-field game for the Ranger community."

Palmer Ridge (11-4) leads the area schools out of the girls' bracket with a No. 9 seed and a first-round bye. The Bears will face No. 8 Dakota Ridge (14-1) in the second round Friday.

"It gives us time to prep for teams we haven't seen," Palmer Ridge coach Kristy Opresko said. "We can get a chance to look at our film now. Especially with the weather we're currently having in the area it's a good film time. And then we still get an extra two solid days to practice what we've learned."

Pine Creek (11-4) also gets a bye at No. 11 and will travel to face No. 6 Cherry Creek (12-3) on Friday.

No. 14 Air Academy (10-4) will host No. 19 Valor Christian (8-7) on Tuesday. No. 16 Cheyenne Mountain (10-5) will host No. 17 Chatfield (8-7) Wednesday.