Colorado takes U-19 boys crown
AVON – Yes, lacrosse is played in the Centennial State and played well.Team Colorado captured its second Vail Lacrosse Shootout title in three years Tuesday in the High School Boys U-19 division, edging the Baltimore Crabs, 13-12, at Nottingham Park.”It feels great, Team Colorado coach Bryan Perry said. “To look at (Baltimore’s) roster and see the places that those kids are going (to college), it was just a great victory for our guys. We really represented our state well. So, I’m very proud of our guys.”It just tells the country that we’ve got a ton of good players out here. It puts us on the national spotlight to say, ‘Hey, we’re as good as anybody. We’ve got a ton of good players out here and people need to start recognizing that.'”Colorado served notice to the Crabs that it would be a formidable squad, taking a 9-7 at the half lead with nine different goal scorers. But Colorado really showed its grit in the second halBaltimore made some adjustments during the break and the field seemed to tilt in the Crabs’ favor.”We changed it around,” Baltimore coach Ryan McClernan said. “We went back to putting three short sticks on the faceoff and our faceoff guy got rested and did a bit better job. In the first half, I don’t think we won hardly any faceoffs. We got more faceoffs and I think having three middies on the field helped out.”
WhistlesMaking matters more difficult for Colorado was that the team ran afoul of the referees. After Colorado’s Spencer Cooperman upped the lead to 10-7, his team took a slashing penalty. Colorado killed off the infraction, but was not so fortunate when goalie Austin Konkel got whistled for interference midway through the third.The Crabs scored when Gavin Gill fed Bart Wagner to make it 10-8. These two attackers along with Gibbs Fogarty were responsible for most of Baltimore’s offense. Wagner had four goals and an assist, while Gibbs had a hat trick and two helpers. Gill was in on six scores with one goal and five assists.At this point, Konkel’s psyche was critical for Colorado’s survival. The goalie was noticeably upset after being whistled and had to settle. He did and went on to stop 10 shots in the third and 17 overall to win tournament MVP honors.”Once I got back in, I just forgot about the penalty and just went about finishing off the game,” Konkel said. “I’m just going save by save and once we get down just concentrating to getting it to our offense so they can hold onto the ball and kill off the penalty. We were just trying to stay composed and keep our heads in the game.”
That composure was tested again by another slashing penalty with 4:55 left in the third. The Crabs didn’t capitalize on the penalty, but did score when Fogarty went to the near post on a pass from Wagner.Dealing with adversityColorado got goals from Shane Anderson and Mark Hild to build a seemingly comfortable 12-9 lead after three, but started the final 12 minutes with a three-minute penalty for an illegal stick. Baltimore scored twice – one each from Jimmy Daly and Wagner – but couldn’t deliver the knockout punch with a bunch of scores.”We couldn’t break out. We couldn’t get inside on them,” McClernan said. “The Colorado team outplayed us, plain and simple, offensively and defensively. … You would hope to take advantage of that, but we had too many turnovers.””Anytime you’re in athletics, that’s the most important thing you can learn – how to deal with adversity,” Perry said. “There’s always going to be problems. It’s never going to be easy and you just have to learn to play through it and onto the next play. Teams that do that come out on top and we did that today.”Anderson was a perfect example of that resolve. He scored a short-handed goal with 9:33 left to cap a hat trick and give his team the eventual game-winning goal.
“I just worked off my teammates,” Anderson said. “The ball was moving quick. I filled in the space and just finished. Austin threw the ball down the field and we fought for the ground ball. They tried to double and we moved it off the ball and got a goal.””Shane’s a super player and a super kid and he had a great tournament for us,” Perry said. “I was very proud to be able to coach him for this.”Wagner pulled Baltimore to within 13-12 with 4:13 remaining. The Crabs threatened, but never could get the equalizer. Fogarty had a shot go wide. Colorado’s Luke Gilliard had a key steal that ate away at the clock and Konkel stoned Wagner as the final seconds ticked off.”To come together with a bunch of kids you’ve known for a while and played against and beating an East Coast team, that’s the best feeling in the world,” Konkel said. “They never think you’re going to beat them. Once you do it’s just amazing.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado