Battle Mountain girls lacrosse downs Devils 14-4
Huskies stay undefeated in league play heading into next week's key matchups in the Roaring Fork Valley
The Battle Mountain girls lacrosse team completed the season sweep of their down-valley rivals, defeating Eagle Valley 14-4 in Edwards on Friday night to maintain their spot at the top of the 4A Western Slope standings. The win is particularly nice for the Huskies as they head into next week’s critical matchups at Roaring Fork — also undefeated at 4-0 — and Aspen, the third-place team in the league.
“That’s a massive week as far as dictating who is going to be in control of this conference,” said head coach Matt Ballay, who brought up some junior varsity players to get in reps in preparation.
“They played really well,” Ballay continued. “We’re going to be relying upon them to be helping us out next week. So, we wanted to give them so looks in varsity.”
The Huskies jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first six minutes and built an 8-2 halftime advantage. The Devils were aggressive, but the play of Battle Mountain goalie Roxy Surridge was simply brilliant all night.
“Yeah I think she took five goals off the board,” Ballay said of the junior, who didn’t give up a goal in the second half until 1:02 remaining in the game.
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“You’ve got final score of 14-4 and I’m not sure if that really shows the true game in that Eagle Valley probably should have had three to five more goals and Roxy made some incredible saves.”
Even though things didn’t go the way they’d hoped, the Devils, after falling to 4-7 overall and 2-5 in league-play, had some bright spots to take away.
“Some of the positives are we have a really good young team coming up, so this was definitely a learning experience,” said captain C.J. Yurcak, who, along with Gracie Nestlerode, scored goals in the final minute of play. “We had a lot of our JV girls playing, so for them to be in the speed of a varsity game was really good today.”
“With it being such a new team, it’s just going to continue to grow and progress, which is going to be awesome to see,” added goalie Justine St. John.
Yurcak said the season as a whole has included a learning curve for younger players and veterans alike as everyone adapts to the more intricate and advanced schemes of first-year coach Genna Randall.
“It’s a lot of different conceptual stuff,” Yurcak described of the new system, which has included learning a zone defense for the first time. “Having somebody that has a little more knowledge of the game and is really training us on all the skills; we’re putting in deeper concepts on defense and our shooting.”
“I feel like that’s made a huge difference in the games, especially tonight,” St. John said of the zone. “We definitely kept them out for the most part.”
When the Huskies were able to penetrate, they capitalized. Abby Rowe, one of the newcomers called up for the evening, notched her first goal late in the second half to make it 10-2.
“I was really impressed with these JV players that came up and played,” Ballay said. “I think there might have been little jitters at the beginning but they settled in.”
Kate Kovacik assisted on a goal by Piper Sassi to make it 11-2 shortly after, and Molly Kessenich poured in another with 5:09 remaining to give the Huskies a 10-point advantage. Surridge held firm until the spurt set off by Yurcak with 1:02 remaining. After Nestlerode’s goal, Alexandra Dienst and Abby Dembeck gave Husky fans a good feeling driving away from the stadium, scoring two quick fast-break goals of their own in retaliation for the 14-4 final. Now, it’s on to the Roaring Fork Valley for Battle Mountain.
In the March 22 matchup in Edwards, the Huskies handed the Skiers their first league loss in eight years. The Rams, who also beat the Skiers, 10-9 on April 10 — and haven’t lost yet this year — could pose an even bigger threat.
“Next week is huge for us,” said Ballay, whose team improved to 8-2 overall and 6-0 in league play. “Right now, we want to take care of Roaring Fork and get ready for them on Tuesday and then it’s a quick turnaround for Aspen on Thursday and that’s going to put someone in position for someone to take control of this conference.”