Battle Mountain lax pays back Eagle Valley
Huskies turn tables on Devils, 11-8
EDWARDS — And now we have a hot mess when it comes to the 4A boys lacrosse state playoffs.
Battle Mountain, starting the day ranked No. 19 in the rating-percentage index, pulled the upset, defeating archrival No. 15. Eagle Valley, 11-8, on Thursday.
Not only does the win keep the Huskies (6-7) in the playoff chase — the top 16 in RPI qualify — but it also was payback for a 12-11 loss to the Devils back in March. Meanwhile, Eagle Valley fell to 6-6.
Both teams have two games left in the regular season to find acceptance from the computer. The Devils are at John F. Kennedy on Saturday and at Glenwood Springs a week from today. Battle Mountain hosts Glenwood on Monday and is at Summit County on Thursday.
While the playoff picture is now a mess, one thing was certain: Had the Huskies not won on Thursday, they were toast. Battle Mountain played with sustained urgency.
“We just knew that we needed this game to go to the playoffs and everyone stepped up to the plate and did the best they could,” Huskies goalie Conner Underwood said. “I think that everyone buys into the hype, especially when it comes from the sideline, you can feel it on the field.”
The Battle Mountain bench was loud and it translated to a quick start on the field. Eagle Valley’s Slade Pike got the first score of the day, but then the Huskies took over with crisp pocket-to-pocket passing.
Luke Larson, Tucker Morrow, Blu Barnett, and Baker Gentry all scored in a 2-minute span and the Huskies’ bench erupted as Eagle Valley took its first timeout after that.
“I’m really proud of the boys,” Huskies coach Connor Compton said. “They all worked really hard for each other and the Husky name.”
Morrow was on his way to a big day with his second of four goals in the second quarter as the Huskies added four more and led 8-2 at the break.
The electricity on the field was tangible, but the bigger question is how can Battle Mountain lacrosse replicate this? Had they played all season with this level of focus, the Huskies wouldn’t be in the position of needing to cobble late-season wins together simply to make the playoffs.
“It seemed like today was the day that it all came together for us,” Compton said. “Our offense looked good. Our defense was taking the ball away. We were doing a good job on the clears. The boys have to find that intensity. I can only yell and scream and yell so much.”
The unsung heroes
Morrow was his usual annoying self; Tom Boyne was a presence and Underwood was the bedrock for Battle Mountain. There’s no big news here.
The bigger task was containing Eagle Valley’s Philip Petersen, who had six goals in the Devils’ win over the Huskies in March. The first way to contain such an offensive threat is to possess the ball continuously, which Battle Mountain did.
The Huskies Cole Plavec and Luke Berger dominated the faceoffs, leaving Petersen standing in the offensive end watching the action. When Eagle Valley had the ball, Battle Mountain’s Alec Moritz got the assignment of Petersen.
This is kind of funny because every winter when Moritz is the shooting guard for Vail Christian’s basketball team, he’s the marked man.
“Phil is obviously really good,” Moritz said. “Halfway through the game, we decided to lock off on him. I was trying to get into his head.”
While it’s hard to conceive of a Moritz brother talking some trash — not — it worked. Petersen did have a hat trick, but nothing compared to his eruption in the first game between the two teams.
Despite the playoff feel to Thursday’s game, Eagle Valley can still win its final two games to finish 8-6, which might be enough to please the RPI. That’s the focus for the Devils.
“It comes down to fundamentals, passing, catching and ground balls,” Eagle Valley coach Nick Carter said. “I hope we’re still in it. We’re working on it. We’re still going to grind. We’re going to play the games we have left.”