Quick start: Vail Mountain beats Summit
Gore Rangers 2-0
EAST VAIL — Coaches always love to draw up a good start. Then there are the starts that are so good that the coach upon seeing it just laughs.
Vail Mountain School lacrosse’s start on Thursday afternoon against Summit was about as good as it gets. Carter Large won the faceoff and got it to Becker Dienst to Mason Geller who scored just 6 seconds into the game, VMS led, 1-0.
Yes, the Gore Rangers have been working on faceoffs — because if you don’t, you shouldn’t bother playing — and the fast break, but 6 seconds?
“That was a great way to start the game,” said VMS coach Anders Fogel, who didn’t draw that play up, but will still keep up the important facade of looking like that was truly the plan.
And why not? VMS rolled to a 9-1 win over the Tigers at the sports landmark that is Bandoni Alumni Field to move to 2-0 on the young season within a very competitive Western Conference.
Aside from that 6-second goal, Thursday felt, dare we say, normal. With COVID shifting the sports calendar so that spring sports in the mountains are actually being played in the spring, fans gathered and watched a game.
What seemed like a perfectly innocuous scene — a game between neighboring schools — was actually conspicuous and delightfully so.
And after two years of not being able to play, just like their counterparts at other schools in Eagle County, VMS is vibrating with excitement that it is on the field.
“We are so excited that the kids are outside and playing, that they are in community together,” Fogel said. “This has been a year where we’ve been told to stay apart and distance ourselves. Once we go the go-ahead to play lacrosse, our theme was together.”
Together works on so many levels for the Gore Rangers. There’s Mason Geller and Becker Dienst. A senior and a sophomore, respectively, Geller and Dienst share the same brain, constantly knowing where the other is.
Thursday, Geller did the damage with four goals, a fair number of them from Dienst. The sophomore had four in Tuesday’s win at Steamboat Springs, so it’s a pick-your-poison situation.
“I’ve known his family for years. I went to school with his sister. I’ve always been around him,” Geller said of Dienst. “This is my third year playing with him recreationally. I know how he plays. I always look for him. I look for his head on the field.”
This is not a two-man show by any means.Sebastian Kohlhofer, Peter Hughes and Large were all in the offense. Vail Mountain also played good defense, allowing just one goal.
On that front it never hurts to have an experienced hand in net like Matthew Gay. As one of the leaders in back, not only does he stop shots, but he’s organizing everyone in front of them.
“That’s the frustrating part,” Gay said. “It’s difficult, just yelling at the top of your lungs. It’s tough to yell at the little kids, but it’s with a lot of love.”
Listen to your goalie, Gore Rangers.
A special team?
While we continue to advise that it is very early in the season, VMS at 2-0 is already one-fifth of the way through the regular season. Congratulations, that went quickly.
Nonetheless, it’s important to remember that VMS is always a middleweight competing in the heavyweight division as the smallest school in the Western Conference lacrosse. When VMS (with 155 students for the purposes of CHSAA’s last count day) is beating Steamboat (830 students) and Summit (955) to start the campaign, yes, the Gore Rangers are pumped.
Is this a replay of 2017, the year VMS won the west? First, if we’re going to compare 2017 to 2021, we start at goalie. Let’s be honest, Nick Charles was much more of a goofball than Gay. (Goalies in all sports are goofy. We send our best to Charles.) What that means as far as the lacrosse season goes, we have no clue. We just felt we should mention it.
Second, it’s way to early to tell if this is a “special” team. The Gore Rangers play Aspen and Eagle Valley weekend after next, so that will be a better indicator.
Regardless, VMS feels that good stuff is happening.
“I think this is group of guys that was obviously denied a season, but they hung in and gone through all of the chaos to play lacrosse,” Fogel said. “That’s making this group really bond. This team moves the ball well, communicates on defense and believes in themselves.”