Devils lax opens on the right foot
And down goes Aspen, 8-6
GYPSUM — After a two-year absence from playing because of COVID-19, it’s only taken two days of the new lacrosse season to blow the top off the 4A Western Conference
One day after Vail Mountain beat Steamboat, 7-4, Eagle Valley opened its season with an 8-6 victory over Aspen on Wednesday evening at Gypsum’s John Ramunno Field. The favorites to win the West — Steamboat is the defending champion and Aspen, the defending Mountain Conference champs, got moved into the league for this cycle — are already a combined 0-2.
Eagle Valley is 1-0 and tied atop the conference after beating Aspen for the first time since a 10-6 win over the Skiers back on April 14, 2011. For the trivially inclined, Daniel Vargas scored four times that day.
In some nice symmetry, Eagle Valley’s Hunter Davis had four on Wednesday. The guy’s pretty good at scoring big goals.
“We set the tone for the season,” Devils coach Nick Carter said. “We lost a really good team in 2020. Fifteen seniors departed the school and now we have a great year to build on it. We’ve got a good team and good leaders.”
Carter brings up a valid point. Eagle Valley had a bit of breakout season in 2019, beating Battle Mountain for the first time since 2009, and making the playoffs for the first time since 2012, and then everything stopped for the coronavirus.
It’s early, but Wednesday was nice.
“They got some good guys. We don’t like Aspen, so it’s always good to beat them,” Davis said. “You’re always trying your best against them.”
In fairness, Davis is right. This is not bulletin-board material as Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley, Summit, Steamboat Springs and Vail Mountain don’t like Aspen and the Skiers don’t like those five squads either. The feeling of mutual disgust among all six teams is what will probably make the Western a very entertaining circuit this spring.
And speaking of entertaining, Eagle Valley hits the road on Friday to face Battle Mountain at 6 p.m.
Yes, Hunter Davis and the younger Petersens were doing their thing, but the Devils’ defense won the day. The whole game plan was to keep Aspen attackers out of the crease. If the Skiers wanted to shoot from the perimeter, fine. Just nothing inside.
Holding Aspen to six goals is a darn good day’s work.
“Our defense was everywhere,” Davis said. “They were helping [goalie] Xander [Kostick] out. Xander was doing his thing. The defense was all over the ball. Our midfielders are the best defensive players I know. They carried us.
Carter praised the likes of Matt Bradford, Tyler Morrison, Jack Suhadolink, Conal Miner after the game. Davis and Kostick also gave props to C.B. Witt.
And now a word about the goalie. For some reason, he is not named Mason Yurcak. We were pretty sure the bedrock of this team had 25 years left of Eagle Valley lacrosse eligibility, but, alas, he went to school.
So meet Kostick, a former midfielder, who has been between the pipes for a little more than a week.
“I’ve played goalie for about a week and a half,” Kostock said. “That’s my first varsity game. I played a JV game [in 2019].”
Kostick’s first varsity go was not uneventful. He clocked Aspen’s Brady Haisfield on a goal and got a 3-minute penalty in the process,
“I didn’t mean to, of course,” Kostock said.
Eagle Valley was in a good position to kill the 3-minute-unreleasable penalty by dominating the first half. Davis got the first two followed by the Eric(h)s. Erich Petersen and Eric Hasley had the next two and Davis wrapped the half with his hat trick.
During the penalty, the Eagle Valley defense held the Skiers to just one goal and Julius Petersen got it right back before the end of the third for a 6-4 lead.
Erich Petersen made it 7-4, and if you think the Petersens are busy, just imagine if Philip, Class of 2020, were still on the squad. Because Aspen always charges late, well, the Skiers made it close, getting within 7-6 with 1:17 left in regulation.
The Devils called a timeout and set up a special. Davis and the Devils cashed in with an insurance goal and they now head to Battle Mountain.
“Oh man,” said Davis, who plays for Battle Mountain hockey during the winter before returning to his Eagle Valley roots for lacrosse. “I can’t wait.”