Seven first-quarter goals lift Aspen lacrosse
GYPSUM ” Aspen’s new offense looked pretty good Thursday.
Two days after a a heart-breaking and potentially playoff-damaging 10-9 loss to Grand Valley, the Skiers boys lacrosse team ditched their 1-3-2 scheme for a 2-2-2 look on offense. The result was seven first-quarter goals in a 15-5 win at Eagle Valley on Thursday.
“We changed our offense up to look for a little better shot selection,” said Aspen coach Mike Goerne, whose team upped its record to 8-4. “We were getting jammed up in our last offense and not quite getting the shots at the right angles. The players started moving a little better off the ball and to find each other a bit better and put the ball in the back of the net.”
Aspen’s Bo Writer has been finding the back of the net, particularly in Eagle County this season. In the March 6 season opener at Battle Mountain in Edwards, he had seven goals against the Huskies in a 13-2 win.
Six weeks later and 30 miles to the west, Writer put up another seven against the Devils.
“Bo’s a monster. He’s just got ridiculous skills,” said Aspen’s Desmond Duggan, one of the Skiers’ four co-captains. “He’s got really good hand-eye coordination. He gets the ball out of nowhere and puts it away and then puts it on the ground in the goal.”
It was actually the Nicks that got Aspen started in the deciding first stanza. Nicky Ufkes and Nicky Fuller scored the first two for the Skiers before John Landreth got the hosts on the board.
For the rest of the quarter, it was all Aspen. Zach Ware ripped the twine twice for a 4-1 lead on his way to a hat trick. Mike Aresty also had two and Writer got his first. Aresty also ended the day with a hat trick.
Goerne was pleased with the way his charges responded to Tuesday’s tough loss.
“This team’s all heart. This team works hard,” the coach said. “They want to play the game. They love learning it. They’re getting better and better every day they step onto the field.”
For Eagle Valley, there were two bright spots. The Devils have been struggling to score goals of late, and Landreth ended up with three. Ethan Andree and Zach Bailey also found the net.
And despite the first-quarter onslaught, sophomore goalie Tyler Keegan had some sparkling saves in net, playing in place of regular starter Bryce Steggall.
“Tyler has stepped into some big shoes and he had a great game,” Devils coach Eric Mandeville said. “He played aggressively. He came out at the right time. You can see he outran guys on the shot just to get the ball back. That’s just pure effort. He was making good passes.”
Both teams have two games left in the season and both have goals. Aspen hosts Glenwood Springs today and has a huge game Monday against Summit County. The Skiers and Tigers are battling it out for second place in the Mountain Conference behind Steamboat Springs, which has clinched the crown.
The eight conference champions from around the state, including the Sailors, are assured a spot in the state tournament. The 24-team field is rounded out by 16 wild cards and the question is whether CHSAA will take the second-place team from the Mountain Conference.
The Skiers would desperately like to be in the field.
“The coaches in the state vote for [seed Nos.] 9-24 in the playoffs and to earn a playoff spot is absolutely what we would like,” Goerne said. “It would show the coaches in the state respect the good lacrosse we’re playing in the mountains. You don’t know until the coaches vote.”
Eagle Valley (2-10) wants to finish the season on a high note. The Devils are at Glenwood Saturday and host Grand Valley Monday. They will not play Durango a second time because all regular-season games must be concluded by Monday and there’s no way the Devils can travel down to La Plata County before the deadline.
“I think our intensity is our key,” Mandeville said. “Just watching the guys play today, the difference today is that we had fun. I think if they bring the same intensity and attitude to Saturday and Monday, I think we can win out. It’s worth a shot.”
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Bringing the game of golf to the community, and particularly making it accessible to young players, is a focus for Steve VanDyke as the director of golf at River Valley Ranch.