Aspen girls lacrosse holds off Air Academy, advances to its first state quarterfinal
Having a first-round bye is a good thing. But for the Aspen High School girls lacrosse team, it also meant a lot of waiting and wondering.
“We were just so antsy to play and that’s where the nerves started building up, because we just wanted to get out there,” AHS coach Amanda Trendell said. “But at the same time, it gave us the chance to focus on our goal of becoming a family and fine-tuning our skills and also preparing for what Air Academy does.”
Nerves aside, the Skiers found a way through the waiting game with an 11-8 win over visiting Air Academy on the AHS turf. The second-round playoff win sends No. 4-seeded Aspen to the state quarterfinals for the first time in program history. The Kadets, seeded No. 13, finish the season 11-6 overall.
This was the second time Aspen beat Air Academy this season, and the third time in a calendar year. AHS beat the Kadets on April 10, 14-10. The teams also played in the first round of the playoffs last year, Aspen winning, 11-10.
“They are always coming out stronger and more aggressive, so that definitely got us nervous,” AHS senior Kate Citron said of playing Air Academy for the third time. “But I think we came out confident and played really well and that’s what keeps us winning.”
Aspen junior Charlotte Howie scored only 17 seconds into Saturday’s playoff game and AHS dominated the latter part of the first half, taking an 8-3 lead into the locker room. But the early part of the second half belonged to the Kadets, who got as close as 9-8 with just under 13 minutes to play.
“That’s a really good job by Air Academy’s coach. They came out and she always does a good job of giving us a good second half,” Trendell said of Air Academy coach Kali Maxwell. “They are athletic and they are fast and they are aggressive, and those are exactly the things we will see moving forward.”
Eventually, Air Academy’s rally ran out of steam. Citron and Howie scored goals barely a minute apart to make it 11-8 with six minutes to play, and the AHS defense did the rest.
Citron finished with a team-high four goals, while Howie and Sabrina Turbidy each had three.
“They came back pretty quickly, but we kept composure and were able to maintain the game,” Citron said. “We are definitely getting stronger every week and people aren’t prepared for us to come out and play as well as we do, so that’s an advantage as well.”
Next up for the undefeated Skiers (16-0) will be a Wednesday home game against No. 5 seed Valor Christian (13-3). The Eagles beat No. 12 ThunderRidge in the second round, 9-8. The winner of that game would head to the semifinals against either No. 1 Colorado Academy or No. 9 Fairview.
“I told them at this point you have nothing to lose, so why not just go full with it and just run with it and enjoy it and not be nervous. I think today was a really great day to settle the nerves and for them to believe,” Trendell said. “That was a big thing … them learning they are here for a reason and they are not just some Mountain League team. They are Aspen and they are great, which is exciting.”
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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.