Vail Mountain School beats Battle Mountain in double-overtime thriller
Vail Mountain moves to 4-1 in handing Huskies first loss of season
March Madness has come to the Vail Valley.
Vail Mountain School’s nail-biter 9-8 double-overtime victory over Battle Mountain boys lacrosse Saturday had everything but Jim Nantz’s play-by-play. Rivals, chippy play, momentum shifts — even a pair of crunch-time heroes — the biggest of which was Max Vidal, who sealed the deal and ended the marathon morning melee in Edwards.
“Just saw the opportunity, great pass from my teammate and I had to finish,” Vidal said of his game-winning goal off a beautiful Mason Geller pass.
Geller wreaked havoc from behind the net all game, catching slashers up the middle with his pin-point passing and creative playmaking.
“I was just trying to win the game; look for the two-on-one,” Geller said of his final clutch dime.
The first quarter’s lone goal came courtesy of Geller’s keen field vision. He found a cutting Connor Provencher, who launched a left-handed strike past Cash Case. Provencher finished with five goals.
“Mason does the hard part; he gets the defense all over him and I’m just lucky to be open,” Provencher stated. “I like to finish them.”
Vidal slashed up the middle and slung a right-handed bullet to the lower left corner to start the second quarter, putting the Gore Rangers up 2-0. Finally, the home team got on the board. Sophomore Jack Pryor made it 2-1 by finishing a behind-the-net pass from Thomas Dekanich with 7:53 to go. Nate Bishop made a nifty spin move and feed to P.J. Kessenich, who chopped the ball down into the net from close to tie things up 1:20 later.
“I thought we came out slow and we need to work on that,” Bishop said about the first half. “But then everyone started working hard.”
Jack Schwartz took it himself for a strike from the 20-yard hashmark to give the Gore Rangers a 3-2 lead going into half. Coming out of the break, Geller, Provencher and Charlie Vidal led a barrage of three straight VMS goals in an 80-second span, forcing Compton to change things up between the pipes.
Max Vidal got past Sam Bamford to make it 7-2, but the sophomore goalie showed resiliency from that point forward.
“We trust all three of our goalies,” Bishop said.
“They both made great saves. I wasn’t even thinking about (the goalie change), I was thinking ‘let’s get some goals, let’s get going.’”
Leo Rothenberg struck first. Then, Kyle Parliament’s coast-to-coast rocket was deflected right into Bishop’s lap.
“We got a lucky roll off and I hit it into the net,” he said of his turning point goal. “It was pretty chill, pretty sweet and we just fed off that energy.”
Geller responded immediately with a beautiful straight-on pass to a streaking Provencher to bring the lead back to four, but the tide was beginning to turn when the fourth quarter began.
Twenty-six seconds in, Kessenich hooked it himself from behind the net. Jack Kovacik won the ensuing face off and took it all the way to make it 8-6.
“Didn’t know whether to be selfish or not, and I just took it down and scored,” Kovacik said.
“Compton was hyping me up on the sideline. He was like ‘you’re faster than him,’ I was like ‘yes sir.’ Once the ref says down set, I take a deep breath in, wait for the whistle and do my thing.”
Garret Ast’s scoop and score a minute later had the crowd sensing the madness.
Peter Hughes quieted things momentarily, capitalizing off a Battle Mountain turnover to make it 9-7, but Bishop responded 37-seconds later. Needing one more to tie, every Husky was looking to be a hero, firing injudiciously until a questionable out-of-bounds call gave the ball back to VMS. It looked over for the white and gold until Rothenberg stole the ball from Geller and raced down to the Husky end. He passed to Thomas Dekanich, who fed Jack Pryor for the tying point with 36.7 seconds to go.
“It was really exciting, especially since we had started down and then had the comeback. The momentum finally swung our way,” Pryor said.
In the first overtime, Bamford’s clutch play continued as both sides became increasingly physical.
“It’s Battle Mountain – it always gets chippy between the two of us, especially close games, going to overtime, emotions running high,” Provencher said.
Bamford fended off Provencher’s buzzer-beating shot, which richocheted off the post. The second four minute period would prove to be just too much, however, when Vidal found space, putting in the game-winner off a pass from — who else — Geller.
“Hard fought victory,” summarized Geller.
“Super bummed that I feel like I let my team down on the last two face-offs,” Kovacik said. “But overall as a team we played great.”
The loss is Battle Mountain’s first on the year. For Vail Mountain School, it’s the second straight extra-period game after losing to Aspen 8-7 on Thursday.
“It was a fight,” Provencher stated.
“We’re on to the next. Right now, it’s next game up, but we’d love to win a state championship this year.”
“I think this is the year,” added Geller.
The Gore Rangers host Battle Mountain April 5.
Pryor had one final thing to say in post-game interviews. “They better watch out for next game,” he said with a grin.