Eagle Valley boys lacrosse wins season opener over Vail Mountain School | VailDaily.com

Eagle Valley boys lacrosse wins season opener over Vail Mountain School

Devils take down Gore Rangers 9-7

Eagle Valley defeated Vail Mountain School 9-7 in its season-opener Friday night in Gypsum.
Madison Rahhal/Courtesy photo

It’s always nice to send a message in the season-opener. On Friday night in front of their home crowd, the Eagle Valley boys lacrosse team made about the best statement you could: a revenge rivalry win over the defending league champs.

“Our league is tough,” Eagle Valley head coach Weston Gleiss said in an email before the game. “There are no off-games on the Western Slope. It’s always exciting to start with a win, especially against VMS, one of the best teams year in and year out.”

All the more reason to celebrate the Devils 9-7 victory over the Gore Rangers, avenging two losses from last April.

“It feels really good to win, start the season off well and get the boys going,” said senior Brady Blizzard, who scored three goals. “It feels pretty good to score a couple and have a good game on the season opener. It gets the team going. I feel like I’m more confident shooting the ball.”

In 2022, Vail Mountain School cruised to the 4A Western Slope league title en route to a 12-3 overall record and No. 6 seed in the 4A playoffs. After a season-ending second-round playoff loss to Aspen, and graduating 12 seniors, Stephen Michel’s VMS squad was bound to look a little bit different. Then again, so were the Devils, who said goodbye to stalwarts Erich Petersen, Eric Hasley, Nolan Miner and Will Geiman.

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“I almost go back to the drawing board. You just have to change your systems because the things that worked were in part due to personnel,” Gleiss said. “We’re doing something totally different.”

Coming into the game, Gleiss pointed to Erich’s younger brother, Julius, as well as Matt Bradford, Josh Bissett and Peter Boyd as players to keep your eyes on.

Eagle Valley senior Julius Petersen takes a shot during the second quarter.
Madison Rahhal/Courtesy photo

“Julius is one of the best players in the state,” Gleiss said. “Matt and Josh are not to be messed with and Peter is a junior with great work ethic and passion for the game.”

Petersen found Owen Taylor for the first score of the season as the two I-70 rivals played to a 1-1 first-quarter tie. Then, Brady Blizzard scored two goals 90-seconds apart to open the second quarter and put Eagle Valley up 3-1. Blizzard and Alexander Smiley fed off each other in the Devils’ offensive zone throughout the game, and with 4:48 remaining, it was Smiley’s turn to put one in the net.

Eagle Valley’s Owen Taylor fires on the goal during Friday night’s game against Vail Mountain School.
Madison Rahhal/Courtesy photo

“I feel like we just kind of got the ball and knew where each other was going to be,” said Blizzard. “I feel like the chemistry was just going.”

“The more we play with each other, the better it gets,” added Smiley. “Kind of the first full practice was yesterday, so we didn’t have much going off, but the little adjustments coming into the quarter, we were running a two man game and the more off-ball movement we have, the more opportunities we’ll have with each other.”

Trailing on the scoreboard and in time of possession, the Gore Rangers looked to their veterans for a response, and Mason Geller was the first to answer the call. The senior attacker came from behind the net, absorbed contact and bounced a fadeaway into the net with 3:55 to go. There was little swing in momentum, however, as the Devils went right to work off the next faceoff.

Peter Boyd got a swing from Julius Petersen, cradled the ball nicely out of harms way and then cut back inside. He deked his way to within eight yards and bounced a rocket in for the 5-2 halftime lead.

Vail Mountain’s Max Vidal, another key contributor from last year’s team, got the Gore Rangers on the board 58 seconds into the third quarter. Then, after seven minutes of scoreless, hard-nosed play, Trevyn Delong notched a score to put the Devils up 6-3. Devils goalie Kyle Woodworth would collect a few nice saves on Vail Mountain’s final legitimate possession, sending the home team into the final period with a three-point cushion.

Blizzard and Smiley found the back of the net again in the fourth, extending the lead to five.

“He looked good. He stepped up,” Gleiss said of Blizzard, who gave credit to the team as a whole for the game plan’s success.

“We don’t just want one or two people to be scorers and have big numbers. We want everyone to be a threat, scoring goals and getting points,” Blizzard said of the team’s agenda coming into the night. Smiley’s sentiment on the team’s identity echoed the theme of balance.

“Diversity,” he answered when asked specifically about the team’s core strength. “We have a lot of strong dodgers, got a lot of strong passers, and have a really strong defense and goalie. That’s the heart of the team.”

Before fans could head for the gates early, Vail Mountain’s Erik Jaerbyn started to get noisy. The junior scored off a pass from Max Vidal with 6:32 to go and then took it himself at the 3:40 mark to make it 8-5.

Erik Jaerbyn scored two fourth-quarter goals for Vail Mountain School in a 9-7 loss to Eagle Valley on Friday night in Gypsum.
Madison Rahhal/Courtesy photo

Petersen responded by finding Noah Flach — his third assist — who scored with 1:40 to go. The cushion came in handy, as Vidal made it 9-6 on a straightaway look from 10 yards to go with one minute remaining and his brother Charlie scored at the buzzer to make it a 9-7 final.

There are many games still to be played, but Gleiss has high expectations for his team. When asked specifically about goals for the year, he stated, “We will be discussing that Saturday morning. We want to hear the boys thoughts, but I want to win the league, host a playoff game and make a run at state.”

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