Late surge lifts Aspen over Battle Mountain
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” Aspen’s lead shifted from comfortable to tenuous.
During a five-minute stretch at the beginning of the third quarter in Tuesday’s lacrosse game, visiting Battle Mountain struck three consecutive times to trim the Skiers’ advantage to 6-4. Aspen head coach Mike Goerne called a timeout.
“In the game of lacrosse, goals happen in bunches,” he said. “Teams build momentum and are always going to make a run. Our biggest objective was to minimize that run.”
“[Goerne] told us we needed to pick up the pace,” junior Zach Ware added.
Ware heeded those words. After the Skiers controlled the ensuing face-off, he faded up the right side, made a quick cut to shake his defender, caught a pass from teammate Terry Leitch in stride and went low for the score.
Order was restored. Aspen, which routed the Huskies 13-2 in March 6’s season opener, scored seven goals in the final 15 minutes and cruised to a 13-6 victory.
“We really came out of that timeout and played a team game,” Goerne said. “In the last quarter, they were showing they wanted to control the tempo and take the right shots. … Today was a good time to get back to the way we like to play.”
The Skiers stumbled in Wednesday’s much-anticipated showdown with Mountain Conference front-runner Steamboat Springs, losing 15-5. They seemingly had put that disappointment behind them early Thursday when they jumped out to a 4-1 lead after little more than four minutes.
Junior Mike Aresty went low for the goal to break a scoreless tie with 8:41 to play. After Battle Mountain’s Coleby Henzlik converted the equalizer, Aspen’s Joey Acklen faded to the middle and fired a strong shot that clipped the net.
The Skiers connected twice in the next 30 seconds on acrobatic plays from Jack Bird and Bo Writer, who scored seven goals the last time the two teams met.
After Rex Christensen scored with 15 seconds to play in the first quarter and again in the second to stretch the lead to five at halftime, it looked as if a rout was in full swing.
Not so fast.
The Huskies came out firing early in the third quarter. Patrick Perry came away with possession during a scrum in front of the Skiers’ net and scored with 9:47 to play. Little more than two minutes later, Henzlik scored the second of his game-high four goals, firing a long wrister from left of the cage that flew past Aspen goalie Daniel Ryerson.
Henzlik converted from about 20 yards out with 5:27 remaining, trimming his team’s deficit to two and sending the Battle Mountain bench into a frenzy.
The Skiers called a timeout to regroup.
Then, they attacked.
“We finally got back to playing our game,” Ware said.
Battle Mountain could not keep up. After Ware’s goal, Cody Horn spun off two defenders on a run up the middle and scored with 15 seconds remaining in the third, extending the lead to 8-4.
Aspen connected five more times during a decidedly one-sided final frame. Nine different players scored in the game for the Skiers, who improved to 7-3 in league play.
“We knew that Steamboat was the team that we needed to get over in conference. We gave it a good, hard shot [Wednesday],” Goerne said. “Now we have to continue to build every time out. We did that today.”
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After falling through a trapdoor in his Telluride home a couple of weeks ago, Chris Busbee wasn’t sure if he’d be able to keep his streak going. He had run in every New York City Marathon since 1998 and was going to run it virtually this year in Aspen before his spill put all that in jeopardy.