Opportunistic Tigers stop Aspen girls lacrosse team

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado
Carmen Dowley/Special to The Aspen TimesAspen's Sarah Chiles looks for an opening in the Grand Junction defense Thursday afternoon. Chiles scored a goal in Aspen's 10-6 loss.

ASPEN – The Grand Junction Tigers saw the land of opportunity when they drove into Aspen on Thursday afternoon.

The Grand Junction girls lacrosse team cashed in with a 10-6 victory over the Skiers on the artificial turf at Aspen High School.

In a game matching the top two teams in the Mountain League, the first half was even in possession and even in shots.

But the Tigers, on a pair of goals late in the 25-minute first half, took a 4-2 halftime lead.

The speedy Tigers, taking advantage of Aspen penalties, potted two quick goals by Ashley Preuss to open the second half, when they would outshoot the Skiers, 15-6.

Grand Junction, with another goal by Preuss, scored six times in the second half to take over the conference lead with a 6-1 record.

“That was a huge win for us,” Grand Junction head coach Alexis Rawlings said. “To go 2-0 against a really good team in our conference is something.”

She said the Tigers not only capitalized on their opportunities, they also minimized their mistakes or hustled to make up for their errors.

When Aspen’s Libby Dowling scored the first goal of the game, Grand Junction answered with goals from Kacie Jay and Megan Gromke.

Dowling added another Aspen goal to tie the game, 2-2.

But Jay and Gromke scored again for the Tigers before halftime.

Gromke added a second-half goal, and Halle Harrison scored twice for the Tigers in the second half.

Shannon Turbidy, of Aspen, scored back-to-back goals to pull the Skiers within 6-4 with 15 minutes to play.

Her first goal came on a reverse spin in front of the goal. The second came on a vicious bouncing shot.

Nina Christiansen and Sarah Chiles added second-half goals for Aspen, 7-2.

“We told the girls that we were disappointed in some of the mental mistakes that we made,” Aspen head coach Lauren Riddick said. “But we told them we were very proud of the effort and the heart they played with.”

She said the Skiers were ready for the speed and fast attack of Grand Junction.

“We were ready for them,” Riddick said. “Our offense did a great job keeping the ball in our end in the first half. We didn’t do as good a job of that in the second half.”

She said it was good test for the Skiers to face a fast and skilled team like Grand Junction.

Beth Jennings, a first-year lacrosse player, had the victory in goal for Grand Junction.

“For her first year, it’s hard to believe. She kept us in the game,” the Grand Junction coach said. “It would have been a lot closer without her.”

The Skiers will head out on a week of experiential education before resuming the spring schedule.