Lacrosse: Aspen holds off Grand Junction
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Aspen girls lacrosse standout Olivia Porcaro limped off the field with an apparent knee injury late in the second half against Grand Junction on Wednesday.
Despite the injury, the team walked off the field with its playoff hopes intact.
The Skiers outscored the visiting Tigers 6-2 in the second half and pulled out an 11-7 victory.
The win completed a season sweep of Grand Junction for what is believed to be the first time in program history, Aspen head coach Lauren Riddick said.
“This is a big milestone to have accomplished. They earned it,” she added. “This was a must win. We’ve got the momentum, and you can’t beat that at the end of the season.”
Momentum appeared to be on the Tigers’ side as Ashley Preuss cut through the Skiers defense for the first goal just 15 seconds in.
After three missed chances by Aspen, including a shot off the cage by Nevada Crandall, Preuss connected again after six minutes.
Aspen stormed back, displaying efficient drives combined with individual scoring acumen. Shannon Turbidy scooped up the ball after a face-off and sprinted untouched up the middle of the field. She curved a shot around the goalkeeper for the Skiers’ first goal.
One minute later, Porcaro weaved around the goal and found the back of the net. Both Turbidy and Porcaro scored again in the next three minutes for a 4-2 Aspen lead.
The game’s momentum shifted back to the Tigers, however, as Morgan Emmons beat Skiers goalkeeper Molly Kadota twice to even the score, and then Emma Lefebre gave her team the lead.
With one minute left in the half, Porcaro skipped a shot past the opposing goalkeeper to square things at five.
“In my head, I looked up and saw the scoreboard and thought that this was just like the beginning of the game. It might as well be zero-zero,” Porcaro said. “I just wanted to push it and hope other people follow through, and they did.”
Porcaro again flashed her penchant for the net as she scored three minutes in to the second half. Grand Junction pulled even again, but it could not respond to another Skiers offensive charge.
Nina Christensen and Porcaro each connected in a one-minute stretch to push Aspen’s lead to 8-6.
“They showed a lot of hustle, and they wanted to win this game,” Riddick said. “We wanted to clean up our transitions from the defensive end in the second. We also wanted to clean up some of our midfield transitions into the offense. They did that in the second half, which let us get settled on offense.”
With 10 minutes remaining, Porcaro and a Grand Junction defender got tied up, resulting in the Tigers player falling on Porcaro’s left knee.
She was sprawled out on the turf for a few minutes before walking off the field under her own power.
“The team decided they wanted to play the next 10 minutes for her,” Riddick said. “Even though Olivia went out, it gave the whole team something to play for.”
Crandall juked two defenders en route to her first of three straight goals, putting the game out of reach as the score ballooned to 11-6.
Porcaro led all scorers with five goals, Crandall pitched in with three and Turbidy contributed two.
With the win, Aspen pulled even with the Tigers at the No. 2 spot in the Mountain Conference. Both are one game behind Durango.
“We want to keep this mentality and drive,” Crandall said. “Our goal is to get a district championship banner because we’ve never had it. Beating Grand Junction twice will be a really big booster for us.”
The Skiers visit Battle Mountain on Friday before returning home for Saturday’s regular-
season finale against Steamboat Springs at 11 a.m.
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Buttermilk Ski Area already is scheduled to host the world’s best at ESPN’s X Games this coming week, while it was recently announced Aspen Highlands will host alpine skiing’s NorAm finals later this spring.