GYPSUM — Battle Mountain lacrosse blanked Eagle Valley, 14-0, on Tuesday, and that result does not guarantee the Huskies a trip to the playoffs and a long postseason run nor does it consign the Devils to a season of futility.
Of course, being on the 14-side of things is better than the alternative, but both teams are looking for things to happen in May, not March.
“The first game does not assure us anything,” Huskies coach Jerry Nichols said. “We’re going to face Eagle Valley again. They always get up for us. It’s a county rivalry game. We expect them to be a lot better than we were today.”
Nichols was covering his bases well as the Huskies host the Devils in Edwards on March 24.
As with any new season comes new rules. The changes are particularly significant in lacrosse. The first is that there is no horn when the ball goes out of play, meaning that all substitutions must be on the fly. The other regards contact on ground balls. You can not hit a player if the referee deems said player in a defenseless position when contesting a ball up for grabs. This rule change is particularly significant because local players growing up with lacrosse have been taught to play the body on ground balls.
So Tuesday was a bit of an adjustment for both teams on those two rules, and Eagle Valley got on the wrong side of whistles, particularly in the first quarter. Battle Mountain built a 6-0 lead, and the Huskies got four of those goals on the advantage.
While Eagle Valley coach Ted Boddy acknowledged that it’s hard to score while on the wrong side of the advantage, he didn’t use that as an excuse for the loss.
“I don’t think that played much of a role,” the coach said. “There are a few more penalties that are unreleasable, but it’s not too hard to make adjustments.”
One theme is lacrosse remains the same — win ground balls, string together passes and things will work well. Battle Mountain junior Wyatt Dilling was on the receiving end of those elements and scored five times for the Huskies.
“I was expecting to have a good game, but not to have five,” he said. “My teammates looked for me and got me the ball well, and the ball found its way into the net.”
Huskies junior Mike Lange had a hat trick, while Jack Nichols had two goals and Crane McGuckin scored twice and had two assists.
“I think we just need to refocus in practice,” Boddy said. “Maybe, this will wake us up. The guys realize they need to go harder. They’ve been working hard in practice, but we need to go harder in games.”
Both the Huskies and Devils have playoff aspirations after making the postseason last spring for the first time. While both teams fell in the first round of the 16-team bracket, the Huskies suffered an 8-5 defeat at the hands of Ponderosa at home, and it’s a motivating factor in their camp.
“It was an awesome start,” Dilling said. “It’s the best way to start. I hope there are more to come this year. We’re looking for redemption. That was a rough playoff loss.”
Eagle Valley (0-1) heads down to Overland on Saturday, while Battle Mountain (1-0) is at Glenwood Springs on Tuesday.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.