Lax: Mullen girls end Aspen’s historic season
The Aspen Times
The Skiers broke their postgame huddle with smiles all around.
There were a few tear-stained cheeks, but generally smiles as the history-making Aspen High School girls lacrosse team closed out the season on a brisk Wednesday afternoon in the first round of the state playoffs.
The battled-test Mullen Mustangs from the Front Range emphatically ended the Skiers’ year with a 15-5 victory on Aspen’s turf field.
“They were a fun team to play,” Aspen head coach Lauren Riddick said of Wednesday’s playoff test against Mullen, a private school traditionally strong in virtually every sport. “We were so glad to get a taste of that (level of play) here.”
Riddick said that the Skiers played with intensity in the face of an experienced Mullen team that showcased a more sophisticated offense than most teams Aspen sees in the Mountain League.
“We couldn’t be prouder of the effort, the hustle,” Riddick said. “We had some great connections on transitions.”
The homestanding Skiers stunned the visiting Mustangs right after the opening whistle when senior Libby Dowley scored off a pass from senior teammate Shannon Turbidy barely a minute into the game.
Turbidy, the Skiers’ all-time leading scorer, slashed into the Mullen defense and scored a second Aspen goal with 21:35 to play in the opening 25-minute half.
But Aspen’s 2-0 lead quickly came under attack from the likes of Cali Edgar and Annie Schindler, a pair of highly regarded college lacrosse prospects.
Edgar scored first for Mullen.
Schindler’s back-to-back scores gave the Mustangs their first lead at 3-2.
Edgar extended the margin to 4-2 before Turbidy scored again for the Skiers.
But Mullen potted the final three goals of the opening half to take a 7-3 halftime lead.
The Skiers threatened right after the second-half whistle. A win on the draw by Turbidy set up an Aspen attack that drew a penalty in close to the Mullen goal.
But Mullen goalie Kami Sisneros stopped the shot on the restart, and the Mustangs rolled from there.
Mullen scored the next six goals in a row to lead 13-3.
The Skiers answered with a goal from Lizzie Ecclestone and Turbidy’s third goal of the playoff game.
Zoe Ryan added a goal, and Sarah Merrifield scored three times in the second half of Mullen’s 15-5 playoff victory.
Schindler finished with five goals and four assists. Edgar had three goals and four assists.
“We’re really happy with our season,” Riddick said after the Skiers ended their historic campaign 12-4 overall.
“The things we accomplished together this season are incredible,” the Aspen coach said. “There are so many fond memories of this journey. But the one we cherish the most is winning the conference for the first time. And the way we did it. We did it with smiles on our faces.”
Mullen coach Danny Cisneros and the Mustangs had plenty to smile about as well on Wednesday afternoon.
The Mustangs (10-6) advance to the second round of the state playoffs and a game against No. 4 seed Arapahoe (11-3).
“We played very well,” Cisneros said, adding that the Mustangs were wary of the long trip to Aspen — a first in school history for Mullen.
“But we had a very comfortable bus. The weather was good; traffic was good. It was a nice trip,” he said, noting that the Mustangs’ regular schedule consists of short Front Range trips
He said the Mustangs had prepared to face the high-scoring Turbidy, the leading scorer in the Mountain League.
“We actually didn’t double-team, it was a quick slide,” Cisneros said of a defensive philosphy that left Turbidy virtually surrounded whenever she tried to work her way toward the Mullen goal.
“As she went, then we would slide,” he said of a defense anchorted by Mullen senior captain Jenn Belz.
“It did begin to affect them (Skiers) when she couldn’t get through (the defense),” Cisneros said.
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There hasn’t been a girls golf season since 2019, as the 2020 spring seasons were canceled for all sports because of the coronavirus pandemic. The Skiers will compete Friday and then again Monday to get the 2021 spring season going.