Hancock to the rescue: VMS edges Ponderosa
EAST VAIL — Vail Mountain School’s Tyler Hancock scored with 11 seconds left in regulation to lift Gore Rangers lacrosse to a thrilling 12-11 win over Ponderosa on Friday.
And it wasn’t even his most exciting goal of the day.
No doubt, it’s a team game. Everybody in VMS blue and white was in on Friday’s big win. After all, the visiting Mustangs drubbed the Gore Rangers, 14-4, last season. But there are just times when it doesn’t hurt to have a special player have a special day and Friday belonged to Hancock.
The senior had six goals in all, five in the second half. He tied the game with what has to be a Goal of the Year candidate. And, oh by the way, he scored the game-winner, too.
“At times, he’s a man among boys,” said VMS assistant coach Will Compton. “He’s definitely a college player the way he sees the game and controls the game, knows when to push it and then he scores goals like that. He has the flair for the spectacular.”
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VMS led 9-7 going into the final quarter before Ponderosa’s Ian Bailey started putting on a clinic. The Mustangs junior matched his uniform with seven goals in all. His sixth gave Ponderosa 10-9 lead.
The Gore Rangers’ Griffin O’Connell scored with 2:20 left to tie it at 10. Hancock won the ensuing faceoff, beat two Mustangs defenders and then tucked his stick behind his back for the shot, which found nothing but net.
“(The Ponderosa goalie) was hugging pipe. He’s a good goalie,” Hancock said. “So I had to throw something he didn’t see. Luckily, it worked.”
Easy for you to say, Taylor.
The entire Vail Mountain bench exploded with joy and incredulity.
Undaunted, Ponderosa came right back with Bailey tying it at 11 with 1:03 to go. But it was Hancock again. Luke Verratti was in his office behind the net and got it to Hancock. It wasn’t a clean pass, but Hancock managed to scoop the ground ball and blast a shot through to give VMS the lead for good with 11 seconds left.
“He’s a machine,” VMS sophomore Max Timm said. “He’s a photocopy, every time.”
Rally starts in the third
Timm was understandably searching for words. Perhaps a Terminator-like cyborg was a better description for Hancock on Friday. But Hancock does bring the monotonous quality of a photocopier to lacrosse with his faceoff work, and that helped VMS get back into the game when the Gore Rangers were trailing, 5-3 at halftime.
Hancock won possessions, and VMS kept scoring. In addition to Hancock’s four in the third period, Dylan Hardenbergh and Henry Hancock scored during that binge.
Lost in the shuffle was that VMS goalie Nick Charles made some key saves in the crunch and VMS emerged with an 8-1 record.
“It’s awesome to see the guys rally,” Compton said. “To see the senior leadership coming in late — Tyler and Luke making plays, you’re proud to see it. And further on down the line, people see those performances and say, ‘Hey, that could be me.’”
VMS has a bit of a break before it resumes Western Conference play on April 11 against Eagle Valley. In the meantime, the first rating-percentage index standings come out on Wednesday, and VMS is certainly making its case to the computer.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.