Aspen boys lacrosse overcomes slow start, tops Ponderosa 7-6
Pre-college testing? Come-from-behind win? Yep, it’s all in a day’s work for Aspen High School’s R.J. Peshek.
Peshek, a junior, was one of a few players who missed the start of Saturday’s boys lacrosse game against visiting Ponderosa as they were taking the ACT in Carbondale. He was able to warm-up quickly between the first two quarters, however, and helped lead the Skiers to a 7-6 win at the AHS athletic field.
“It was all right. It was a little tough coming out here after that,” Peshek said of the ACT. “Right as I got up here and I ran into the locker room, I got changed and came down right onto the field. That was a big win for us.”
Aspen certainly was clicking for most of the second half, but had to overcome a slow offensive start to beat Ponderosa (2-6 overall), which beat Bishop Machebeuf 17-10 Friday afternoon before leaving from Parker for Aspen around 5 a.m. Saturday.
The Skiers hadn’t played since a 7-5 win at Fruita Monument on Tuesday.
“That was a little tenuous there for a little bit,” AHS coach David Miller said of the team missing starters early because of testing. “We are starting to put together a complete game. Previous games have been maybe 10, 15 minutes of good game. I think we played closer to 30 minutes of good game today.”
Aspen trailed 1-0 early before freshman Ty Tullar, in his first varsity start, scored on his first varsity shot to tie the game at a goal each. Ponderosa led 2-1 after a quarter.
The teams went to halftime tied 2-2, the lone goal in the second quarter coming when AHS freshman Robbie Fitzgerald scored on a fast break with 2:35 remaining in the period.
“We finished off the game with two freshmen playing attack, which was excellent,” Miller said. “Offense looked good. We are starting to hold onto the ball and really move it. Defense was solid, as usual.”
The offense picked up in the second half. Fitzgerald gave Aspen its first lead at 3-2 with 2:59 to play in the third quarter, and Peshek made is 4-2 barely two minutes later. Peshek struck again early in the fourth quarter to push Aspen’s lead to 5-2.
“It was a pretty fair game. It was big for our offense. It was the first game that we’ve been able to click,” Peshek said. “It was a bit nerve-wracking, the teeter totter going back and forth. But it was all good.”
The back and forth came midway through the final quarter, when Ponderosa answered with back-to-back goals to cut Aspen’s lead to 5-4 with 4:42 to play. The Skiers responded with a goal from sophomore Dawson Holmes at the 3:42 mark, making it 6-4, and junior Reece Cohan effectively put the game away with 2:47 to play, his goal making it 7-4.
Ponderosa got two back, the first with 49.6 seconds to play, and the second essentially as time expired.
“On our ground balls we did much better today than we’ve done in the past, which is what really wins games,” Miller said. “For where we are looking with only five or six seniors, we are looking pretty good.”
Aspen, in its first full season under Miller, now is 5-2 overall and remains 3-0 in league play. The team is next scheduled to host Summit on Thursday in its final non-league game, before closing out the remaining seven regular-season games against division foes.
The Skiers entered the weekend ranked No. 3 in Class 4A in RPI. Their only losses are to Thompson Valley (RPI No. 1) and Vail Mountain (RPI No. 4).
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Basalt volleyball improved to 8-4 overall after a 3-0 sweep of Grand Valley on Saturday. BHS, which started the season 0-3, had won seven straight before a 3-2 loss to Cedaredge on Friday. The Longhorns next play Tuesday in Aspen.