Boys lax: Aspen opens playoffs with victory
The Aspen Times
The Skiers reinforced their No. 1 seeding in the state lacrosse playoffs Wednesday afternoon.
And they wasted no time.
The Aspen High School boys lacrosse team, with a flood of six goals in the opening five minutes, powered past Englewood 17-2 at Aspen School District Stadium in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs.
The Skiers (14-2), the top seed among the 16 Class 4A playoff teams, earned a second-round home game Friday afternoon against either Windsor or Steamboat Springs.
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Jonathan Wells opened the offensive floodgates for the Skiers when his shot pelted the back of the Englewood cage just 36 seconds into the game as heavy rain pelted the field turf in Aspen.
Barely a minute later, John Heaphey scored the first of his two goals.
Harry Ferguson, off a pass from Tyler Tick, gave Aspen a 3-0 lead.
Tick, assisted by Ryan Fitzgerald, pushed the advantage to 4-0 on a transition goal led by RJ Peshek.
By the time Fitzgerald scored and Tick scored again and Wells scored again, the Skiers were rolling with a 7-0 lead over the visiting Pirates, who had won their Denver-area league.
Even as the downpour stopped, the Skiers’ offense didn’t.
Their quick attack pushed their lead to 10-0 on goals from Trey Robinson, Ferguson and Tick before Englewood scored.
Travis Hastings of the Pirates swept a loose ball into the Aspen net after a teammate’s shot was turned back midway through the second period.
His goal was followed immediately by a score from Caleb Medina.
The Aspen defense shut down Englewood (10-6) from that point forward.
From a 13-2 halftime lead, the Skiers added two more goals in the third period and two more in the fourth as head coach Mike Goerne used his entire roster, including a fleet of junior varsity players, in the state playoff game.
“We did what we wanted to do,” Goerne said. “We got our offense going early and got a lot of reps for a lot of guys.”
The veteran AHS coach said he was able to bring up several JV players for Wednesday’s postseason opener.
“It was fun to get them runs in this game,” Goerne said.
Mike O’Brien and Ryan Hooker each scored twice for the Skiers — their first varsity goals of the year.
“We were very fortunate with our seeding,” Goerne said of the No. 1 position in the playoff bracket. “Now, Friday we are back home.”
The Skiers, he said, are familiar with both Windsor and Steamboat Springs, and they’re looking forward to the Friday second-round game, set for 4 p.m.
Wednesday’s state playoff victory also was a special reunion for Goerne and Englewood head coach Matthew Thomas.
“He and I go way back,” Goerne said. “He was my coach when I played in the Minnesota all-star game my senior year.”
He said that he and Thomas have played on men’s club teams together and against each other over the years.
“To his credit, he has done an incredible job with Englewood,” Goerne said of Thomas. “For them to be their conference champs … Englewood had their best lacrosse season in 30 years. My hat’s off to the effort they put in.”
After the game, the two teams gathered at midfield for a state lacrosse playoff picture — blue-clad Pirates intermingled with the white jerseys of the Skiers.
The trip to Aspen was the first ever for a sports team from Englewood High School.
“The lacrosse world is small. The roots in lacrosse run deep when you’re a player,” Goerne said. “It’s exciting to see where and how these guys will connect in their lacrosse futures.”
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Herman is the freestyle skiing winner of the Summit Daily’s Peak Performers project, which honors the greatest athletes and most influential figures in Summit county ski and snowboard history.