Conifer ends Vail Mountain’s lacrosse season
EAST VAIL — Perhaps, the legacy of the 2017 Vail Mountain School lacrosse team was on display just after the Gore Rangers finished their season.
While the varsity team huddled in its corner of the pitch, VMS fifth-grader Trevor Donovan was working on his behind-the back shot.
“It’s not too good right now,” he said.
Don’t worry, Trevor, you’ve got four years to work on it. By the time, you’re a freshman, we’re sure it will be Tyler Hancock-esque.
Conifer abruptly ended Vail Mountain’s season with a 15-3 pounding of the Gore Rangers in Friday’s 4A state quarterfinal, a sour ending to the best season in school history.
“I think these guys are the catalysts not only for the future of Vail Mountain lacrosse, but mountain lacrosse, the whole Western Slope,” VMS coach Bobby Ecker said. “It was pretty special what we did this year. We turned some heads.”
That they did with a 14-3 record, a league championship and the first playoff win for the Gore Rangers.
All future Gore Rangers will be chasing Luke Verratti and his scoring records. Defense at VMS will be played like Dylan Hardenbergh and Peter Tice did. If the team has a slightly goofy goalie who drives the coaching staff crazy occasionally, that person’s just being Nick Charles.
And, yes, if the team is fortunate enough to have an automatic winner on faceoffs, then everyone will remember that Hancock guy.
“It’s amazing to see how far it’s gone since my class was freshmen and starting the program,” Verratti said. “I’m looking forward to keeping up with the program as I move on and seeing how far they go in the future.”
Conifer came out impressively dropping a six-spot on the Gore Rangers during the first 12 minutes. The Lobos’ Mason Meyer had a hat trick during the six minutes. Chase Phelps seemed to be directing traffic for Conifer on offense, scoring once and assisting three others in the first period.
Nick Huels and Riley Miller finished up the first-period rampage.
“I think it was a lack of possession,” Verratti said. “Credit to them, they’re an awesome offensive squad, but when it came down to it, they out hustled us when it came to transition back to (offense).”
And while lacrosse is a game of runs of momentum, VMS was going to have a hard time coming back from a 6-0 hole. Compounding matters was the absence of Griffin O’Connell (stomach flu) on the attack.
Verratti and Henry Hancock scored in the second quarter for the Gore Rangers but the Lobos were cruising to a semifinal date next week against the Dawson School.
The Gore Rangers’ spirits lifted in the postgame huddle as the coaching staff thanked the team for its work this season. As the smallest school in the state to field a lacrosse team, VMS did quite a bit this season.
The team recorded its first wins over Aspen and Steamboat Springs. Eleven of its 16 games were against 4A playoff teams and the Gore Rangers went 8-3 against those squads.
“It’s definitely been amazing,” Verratti said. “All the support from the school’s been amazing, all the orange on the sideline. Having the whole school come out to watch lacrosse is pretty special.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.