Vail Mountain lacrosse nips Eagle Valley, 7-6
EAST VAIL — New rivalry, anyone?
Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain will always have their thing. Vail Mountain School has Vail Christian in some sports and Aspen in others.
But if Wednesday’s boys lacrosse game was any indication, the Gore Rangers and the Devils may be onto something. VMS came away with a thrilling 7-6 win against Eagle Valley at soggy, yet always splendiferous Bandoni Alumni Field in a game that went down to the horn.
“It was a weird and wild day,” VMS coach Matt Felser said in a somewhat understated manner.
The Gore Rangers and Devils traded hits, penalties and clutch saves during a driving rain with VMS upping its record to 7-3 in what’s now a quest for the first-year varsity program to make the playoffs.
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“Yeah it’s in the mix,” said Gore Rangers senior Trevor Shelden. “We’re always thinking what’s next. We’ve got a big doubleheader this weekend with Montrose and Telluride. It’s been a great senior season with (fellow seniors) Clay (Kirwood) and Kade (Manula). It couldn’t be a better group of guys.”
The Gore Rangers were leading on their Senior Day, 4-3, at the break before the Devils’ Jared Salaz ripped his third of four goals on the day to tie it. The flash point came with 21 seconds left in the third when Luke Verratti put one past Devils keeper Joe Sheldon.
The two collided and engaged in a post-score tussle. Both got four-minute penalties to cool off. While Sheldon was beside himself during the penalty and after the game, it’s worth noting that the senior kept his team in the game with 20 saves in all, including numerous clutch stops in the third.
Kirwood added to VMS’ lead with 10:24 in regulation. Eagle Valley’s Sam Boomhower answered with a ripper. (Boomhower is not to be confused with Finn Blomquist, the defender who had a rare score on Tuesday against Summit County in Gypsum.)
Kirwood to Nick Whiteford gave the hosts a 7-5 lead, but Salaz got his fourth, and then in seemingly a repeat of soccer season, a VMS junior saved it for the Gore Rangers’ seniors.
VMS goalie John Linn, who is a netminder for all seasons — soccer or lacrosse — stood on his head during the final 2:48. The junior turned aside everything the Devils could offer, including helping kill off an Eagle Valley man-advantage.
“John is a gamer,” Felser said. “I’ve always said it, and he proved it again today.”
As Shelden noted, VMS still has two big games left before crossover play. The Gore Rangers are at Montrose on Friday and at Telluride on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Eagle Valley (2-10) looked like a much-improved team from its loss on Tuesday at Summit.
“I think we’re all learning,” said first-year Devils coach Bobby Ecker, who added himself to that category. “We’re a young team, starting a lot of freshmen and sophomores. So when we get down to the end of the game, it’s something we’re getting used to. We had an opportunity at the end with the man advantage and couldn’t capitalize.”
The Devils host Clear Creek on Saturday for their Senior Day.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.