Vail Mountain lax clinches league crown | VailDaily.com

Vail Mountain lax clinches league crown

Griffin O'Connell and Vail Mountain School lacrosse are the Western Conference champions after winning at Steamboat Springs, 10-8, on Friday afternoon. The Gore Rangers and Sailors wrap the regular season today at 1 p.m. in East Vail with a rematch.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The Vail Mountain School lacrosse team is the Western League champion.

For real. No fooling. Put it in the books.

The Gore Rangers defeated Steamboat Springs, 10-8, on Friday afternoon for the first time in school history, and with that win comes the first lacrosse league title for the program.

"It's a first for our program, which is incredible. We're stoked." Gore Rangers coach Bobby Ecker said. "But we are realizing the games aren't getting any easier. It was an eye opener to be in a tight ball game like that."

It certainly isn't going to get any easier for VMS (13-1 overall and 9-0 in the Western Conference) because the Gore Rangers host Steamboat at Bandoni Alumni Field today at 1 p.m.

The visiting Sailors could be battling for their rating-percentage index and playoff lives, while VMS wants to stay in the top four of the rankings to clinch two home games in the postseason.

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"We're going to be tired," Ecker said. "We've seen each other. There are going to be no surprises. It's going to be a battle."

The Sailors took an early 2-0 lead before VMS scored the next three. The Gore Rangers led, 5-3 at the half, and never relinquished their advantage. VMS led by as much as 9-5 before the Sailors closed it to 9-8. In a rough-and-tumble affair, VMS goalie Nick Charles came up huge late.

Also apropos for a tight game, it was all senior scoring for VMS. Griffin O'Connell had a hat trick, while Kyle Negomir and Tyler Hancock each had two. Luke Verratti, Todger Davis and Dylan Hardenbergh all scored, the last being notable as it came from defense.

Speaking of seniors, VMS will be honoring its lacrosse Class of 2017 at 12:45 p.m. before the rematch with the Sailors.

Summit beats VMS, 3-1

EAST VAIL — Three games in four days finally caught up with Vail Mountain School soccer.

The Gore Rangers (11-3) dropped their season finale against Summit County, 3-1.

"It is what it is," VMS coach Bob Bandoni said. "It's time to move forward. I think it was pretty clear that three games in four days was just taxing enough to have an impact on our energy in the attack. We actually created some good opportunities, but we just couldn't finish. It was difficult to play wide."

While VMS soccer does not officially do Senior Day, you soccer seniors are Lilly Rumford, Lindsey Peterson, Sydney Sappenfield and Holly Parker.

This quartet is anything, but done. VMS will get its playoff seed on Sunday on chsaanow.com. VMS was ranked No.13 in the RPI, coming into Friday's game, and that number will likely be worse seed after the loss, as the computer does not take into account that the 3A Gore Rangers were playing a 4A team.

And while VMS fans may be grumpy that all of their team's losses came at the hands of 4A opponents, that is a moot point. The Gore Rangers will start the playoffs on Friday in one of eight three-team pods.

For example, if the season had ended with the last RPI posting, then No. 13 VMS would play No. 20 in the RPI, Aspen, at the home of the No. 4 team, Liberty Common. However, CHSAA would tweak the first round, so that Western Slope teams don't play each other. Likely VMS would play No.19 Lutheran or No. 21 Florence with the winner playing Liberty Common on Saturday.

These rankings are likely to change by Sunday.

And, if one is looking for an omen, then VMS soccer lost its last game of the regular season last year against the Dawson School, and that turned out well for the Gore Rangers.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.