Despite inconsistency, Aspen High girls lacrosse battles past Cheyenne Mountain
One of the teams was dominant, while the other could barely function. Both wore the “A” on their jerseys representing the Aspen High School girls lacrosse team.
Fighting a bit of a split personality on Saturday against visiting Cheyenne Mountain, the Skiers found a way to earn arguably their best win of the season in a 13-12 victory over the Indians on the AHS turf.
“It’s tough, because when we get into the playoffs I can’t waste my timeouts on picking up their energy level,” AHS coach Amanda Trendell said. “If I could go out there and play with them I would, but at the end of the day it’s got to come from them and it’s got to come from our captains. It’s something we are constantly working on.”
Aspen, playing for the first time in 10 days, was blistering hot from the start. AHS led 4-0 rather quickly and again at 5-1 as the clock crept under the 10-minute mark of the first half.
That’s when the problems started. The Skiers couldn’t find that same energy in the final minutes before halftime and looked helpless as Cheyenne Mountain rattled off five goals over eight minutes, including one with only six seconds remaining in the half, to take a 6-5 lead into the break.
Trendell’s halftime talk was largely about convincing her players to regain their energetic play from earlier in the game.
“She just told us to keep the energy up, because we sort of go through lulls sometimes throughout the game,” AHS junior Kate Citron said. “When we get our energy low is when we start to play sloppy. So when we get that energy up and carry it from defense all the way up to attack we get it back.”
Trendell’s words did their job, as the Skiers opened the second half with the same intensity as they started the game. Sophomore Charlotte Howie tied the game only six seconds into the half before junior Sabrina Turbidy gave the Skiers the lead back at 7-6 barely 30 seconds later.
By the midway point of the second half, Aspen’s lead was 11-6 thanks to two more goals from Howie, one from Citron and one from senior Jane Marolt.
“It comes from energy and it also comes from wanting your ball on your stick,” Trendell said. “We just got back on our energy train, focused on our 50-50 ground balls, and then just made it prettier lacrosse.”
The drama was far from over, however. Only a couple of minutes after Howie made it 11-6, the Indians scored two quick goals to get within 11-8. Aspen kept this rally in check, getting back-to-back goals from Citron to lead 13-8 with 7:45 to play.
But, once again, their lead began to dissolve. Three straight goals by Cheyenne Mountain made it a two-goal game with 1:19 remaining, and pulled within one with 33 seconds to go. The Indians had a chance to get the equalizer as time ticked under 15 seconds, but the AHS defense held its ground and denied a clean shot opportunity to hold on for the win.
“This definitely helped us with our confidence,” Citron said. “Getting this win will definitely show other Colorado teams and more Denver teams that we are going to play in the playoffs that we are a threat and not to just consider us a team they are able to beat.”
While it was a non-league game, it was important in terms of RPI, which will determine playoff seeding. Cheyenne Mountain, now 8-5 overall, was 15th in the RPI standings after Saturday’s loss. The Indians had won seven straight games before their current three-game skid.
Aspen, now 8-3 overall, moved up to No. 13 in RPI as of Saturday afternoon. All three of the Skiers’ losses have come against non-league opponents from the Front Range, two of which (Denver East and Pine Creek) are ranked in the top six in the state. The outlier is a season-opening loss to Chatfield, which is currently 7-6 overall.
“I’d love to see Pine Creek and Denver East again. We are definitely a different team than we were against Chatfield,” Trendell said. “I know (Cheyenne Mountain is) a good team and having two Denver refs, it paints a picture for the girls of what the playoffs are going to look like.”
The Skiers have three games remaining in the regular season: a makeup with Eagle Valley, Durango on senior day, and a final trip to Conifer.
U.S. Ski & Snowboard on Tuesday announced the final U.S. World Cup schedule, a lineup that includes the Aspen World Cup from March 3 to 5 on Aspen Mountain. Those races will include a men’s super-G and two men’s downhills.