DENVER – Play in the middle of the field drove all the success for Erie during the Class 4A state championship lacrosse match on Monday.

The dominant faceoff ability of Ashton Karch, the numerous turnovers created in the middle of the field and the speed in transition all fed into a pair of runs that lifted the top-seeded Tigers past No. 7 Northfield 14-6 at the University of Denver’s Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium.

The first run came in the game’s opening minutes when the Tigers built a 4-0 lead in the first quarter. The second came after a 40-minute lightning delay, when they rattled off three goals in the final minute of the third quarter, then added four more unanswered tallies in the fourth.

Particularly during the flurry at the end of the third, Karch’s prowess was key.

“We were well-prepared for this team,” Karch said. “We watched a lot of film on them and (Ryan Diamond) was new to the faceoff dot and he came in off an injury. We watched his last two games and we were really well-prepared for him. We fought hard and we were able to battle for everything we got.”

The senior, who’s committed to Westminster University in Utah, won more than 80% of the face-offs he took and was among the midfielders and defenders laying body checks over the middle.

The physicality, combined with the consistently maintained possession, allowed the Tigers to control proceedings. Erie’s opening rally lasted for four goals, the last of which came from freshman Drake Chivukula. Northfield cut it back to 4-2 before Karch spun in and flicked home a goal to stretch Erie’s goal. The Nighthawks got two deep goals from Ezekiel Brown and Ren Garfield to make it a one-goal game. Erie fought back with some shifty stick-work and a goal from Charlie O’Brien, then a chopped-in goal from Colin O’Rourke gave Northfield the last laugh before the lightning delay.

Hot off the break for the Tigers, Liam Connors earned his third assist of the game by feeding Davis Mundy. The Nighthawks would get one back 7-6, but it would be 7-0 Erie the rest of the way starting with a 3-0 run in last than 60 seconds. Connors slung it low to find a goal. Karch won the ensuing faceoff and immediately fired to Conners for a follow-up goal. Karch took the next faceoff and hit Tyler Keating to cap the rally.

“It’s undeniable that he changes the game for us,” Erie coach Nick Mandia said of Karch. “He’s owned games for us and we’ve been able to beat good teams because he was able to manage that. And he’s so incredibly tough. What you just watched, he did every single game for us this season and he’s still walking.”

Mundy, O’Brien and Connors all added insurance goals to pad the lead and kick off celebrations in front of a packed student section.

“We started the second stoppage the way we started the first — just bam, bam, bam,” Connors said. “And they couldn’t keep up.”