Lacrosse: Second-half surge powers Aspen girls
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
ASPEN – Welcome home, Skiers.
The well-traveled Aspen High School girls lacrosse team finally played its home opener Monday after a string of four road games that took the Skiers to the far reaches of Western Colorado.
Happy to play on their home all-weather turf, the Skiers broke open a close game with a flurry of five consecutive second-half goals on the way to a Mountain League victory, 12-6.
“We could have played with a little more fire, but we got through it, and we had fun,” said captain Nina Christensen. “It was our first home game, and we were super excited.”
The Skiers channeled their excitement into three quick goals to start the Monday afternoon game, played in chilly temperatures under clear skies.
Christensen scored less than 2 minutes in on a free-position shot in front of the goal after a Steamboat Springs foul.
Teammate Shannon Turbidy, who would lead the Skiers with four goals, scored her first goal on an Aspen fast break 17 seconds after Christensen scored.
Christensen potted a third score before the Sailors regrouped with a goal by Nikki Fry.
Fry scored again, and Aleigh Aurin also scored to pull Steamboat within 7-3 at the half.
The shorthanded Sailors, who had only two substitutes, cut into that lead when Aurin scored to pull Steamboat within three goals in the third quarter.
“We got a little nonchalant,” Christensen said. “We had to pick it right back up. We just lost focus for a little bit.”
Christensen started to refocus the Skiers with a goal off a pinpoint pass from Turbidy less than a minute after the Sailors had scored.
Then, in sequence, Paige Johnson scored for Aspen. Turbidy scored two goals. And Johnson scored again, creating a 12-4 lead for the Skiers with 8 minutes to play.
“Assists are fun for us,” said Christensen, who assisted Turbidy and Johnson on Monday goals.
“It doesn’t matter who gets the goal. We all work together,” said the AHS junior, the daughter of Candice and Robert Christensen.
“In the second half, we definitely picked it up,” said Johnson, the daughter of Kathy and Ken Johnson. “We spread out and passed the ball.”
Johnson finished with three goals for Aspen as did Christensen.
Libby Dowley scored twice in the victory for the Skiers (4-1 overall, 2-0 in conference).
Johnson said the steady play of goalie Isabella Courtenay-Morris and the Aspen defense was critical in Monday’s win.
“She (Courtenay-Morris) is doing great right now. This is only her second year (of lacrosse). She says there’s a lot of pressure (playing goalie), but she loves it,” Johnson said.
Steamboat fired 20 shots at the Aspen goal.
The Skiers countered with 21 shots.
“We thought getting the win is important, but we still have some things to work on,” Aspen head coach Lauren Riddick said. “We were pretty good off the draw (early). But we need to keep that going the rest of the game.”
She said she was pleased with the way the Skiers responded with a flurry of goals in the second half.
“We had that bit of a lull. But they recognized they had to take their intensity level up, and they did,” Riddick said.
“They are starting to work really well together. They are starting to read off each other (on offense),” she said.
“But the competition Thursday is going to be tougher,” Riddick said of the 4 p.m. Thursday game against Grand Junction, the only team to beat the Aspen girls lacrosse team this year. “We’ve got work to do to prepare for Grand Junction.”
The undefeated Tigers (3-0) beat the Skiers 19-7 in Grand Junction last weekend.
Riddick said the Skiers will focus on fundamentals as they prepare for the conference game against the Tigers. The earlier game was a non-league contest.
“We could have all kinds of elaborate strategy, but without catching and throwing well, it doesn’t matter,” Riddick said.
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