Aspen boys lacrosse passes Academy test
The Aspen Times
The Skiers had studied hard for their first big test.
And they passed — with extra credit.
The undefeated Aspen High School boys lacrosse team answered the questions posed by the powerhouse program from Air Academy High School of Colorado Springs, the defending state runner-up, on a blustery Saturday afternoon at the AHS field.
The Skiers, who warmed up with the weather in the second period, stunned the Air Academy Kadets 14-8, erasing an early 5-1 deficit.
“We’re always nervous coming out against big teams like (Air Academy), but we settled down and definitely got our confidence going in the second period,” said Aspen’s John Heaphey, who scored three quick goals in a 4-0 run by the Skiers to open the quarter.
Tyler Tick also scored in the barrage of four goals in one minute and 58 seconds that tied the game.
“Evan (Morris) was really big on the faceoffs,” Heaphey said after Morris’ faceoff wins led to Aspen goals.
Air Academy twice regained the lead in the second quarter. The Kadets went up 6-5 on a goal by Travis Work.
But that lead was wiped out on a goal by Aspen’s Trey Robinson, off a picture-perfect pass from Harry Ferguson.
Air Academy went ahead 7-6 in the second period on a goal by Mitchell Miller, who would lead the Kadets with five goals on the day.
Tyler Tick tied the game for Aspen with 5:17 to play in the second.
And Tick put the Skiers ahead for good at 8-7 with another score before halftime.
From there, defense stepped up as the Skiers shut out the Kadets in the third period and gave up only one lone goal in the fourth.
“We had a lot of man-downs, and we were able to shut them down,” Heaphey said of the Aspen defense in front of goalie Jordy Cottrell.
“That was really good defense,” said Heaphey, the son of Christoher and Stephanie Heaphey.
“Jordy Cottrell in the goal was incredible,” said Aspen head coach Mike Goerne, who has led the Skiers to a 4-0 record. Aspen overpowered Telluride 13-1 on Saturday morning before facing Air Academy in the afternoon.
“Our defense did a good job of keeping a lot of shots to the outside (of the goalie),” Goerne said. “It was team play across the board.”
He said this year’s team has a high maturity level, which helped the Skiers when they fell behind 5-1 on three first-period goals by Mitchell.
“We were a little hesitant coming out … first big game of the season,” Goerne said, adding that Air Academy handled the Skiers 9-2 last year.
“We knew this would be the first game to really test us this season.”
He said he reminded the Skiers that lacrosse goals come in groups, and “we just hadn’t gotten our group of goals.”
Those goals came in the final three periods when Aspen outscored Air Academy (1-1) by a 13-3 margin.
“The kids played to win every whistle, They kept pushing throughout the entire game,” Goerne said.
Goerne said the team appreciated Air Academy making the long trip to Aspen for the early season lacrosse showdown.
“This was a good, clean, fun lacrosse game,” Goerne said. “Coach Ron Garcia has developed something very strong at Air Academy.”
Ferguson potted four goals for Aspen, including the lone first-period goal.
Tick also finished with four goals in the win.
Ryan Fitzgerald also found the net for the AHS boys.
The Aspen boys lacrosse team will host Eagle Valley on Tuesday and Glenwood Springs on Thursday.
The Skiers are scheduled to play at Valor Christian in Highlands Ranch next Saturday.
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The camp not only let the players shake the rust off, but it opened a window into the soul of Michael Goerne. A Minnesota native, Goerne moved to Carbondale soon after graduating from Marist College in New York and is largely credited for the massive growth of lacrosse in the valley.