Aspen boys lacrosse holds off Vail Mountain to win home opener
What looked like a possible rout turned into a nail-biter on Wednesday when the Aspen High School boys lacrosse team hosted Vail Mountain School in its home opener. The Skiers overcame a late collapse to hold on for an 11-9 win over the Gore Rangers on the AHS turf.
It was the first win for new head coach Tommy Cox.
“We played unbelievable for the first three quarters,” Cox said. “The age-old story, we started to get a little comfortable and complacent and they made a little run back. But it kept our boys on our toes and ultimately helped us finish out the game strong.”
The two teams had originally been scheduled to play March 9 in the season opener, but the recent winter storms forced that game, and a few others, to be postponed. The Skiers finally opened the season on Monday with a 6-5 overtime loss to Battle Mountain and really needed to rebound against VMS in their final game before spring break.
“The Battle Mountain one was a heartbreaker,” Cox said. “Last season they lost their first game and it kind of woke them up a little bit and they went to the state semis. We got our loss out of the way and now we are rolling.”
Tied 2-2 after a quarter against Vail Mountain, the Skiers scored five straight goals in the second quarter to take a 7-2 lead. However, Vail Mountain score twice in the closing minute and took the momentum into the break down only 7-4.
Aspen got both goals back in the third and tacked on another early in the fourth to make it 10-4. The game seemingly out of reach, the Gore Rangers put together a run of five consecutive goals scored in barely two minutes, pulling to within a single goal with just over four minutes remaining.
A minute later, Aspen’s Garrett Hughes pushed the AHS lead back to two goals and the defense held on from there.
Aspen sophomore Tyler Ward led the team with three goals, while seniors Dawson Holmes and Dominic Lanese each had two. Four others had a single goal.
The loss dropped VMS to 0-4 overall. The Gore Rangers were preseason No. 10 in 4A before dropping out of the rankings this week.
Aspen, ranked No. 5 in the state this week, is 1-1 and won’t play again until April 2, a home game against Fruita.
Wednesday’s win was particularly notable at it was the first home game and victory since the Feb. 16 deaths of Roaring Fork Valley locals Michael Goerne and Owen Green, who both coached lacrosse. Goerne was the head coach when AHS won the 2015 state championship.
The team is using the letters “MGOG” on shirts and uniforms to commemorate the two men this season.
“It feels great. We wanted this one, especially for Mike and Owen in our home opener,” Cox said. “We wanted to come out, have a good showing and really show this conference what we are all about in this new era.”
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