Red shake off rust in second half
VAIL – After four years of winning the Vail Lacrosse Shootout Masters Championship, most people have figured out there isn’t much rust to Rusty Red.But on Monday, the team – which consists largely of Cornell University alumni – had to fight harder than usual for its victory.Rusty Red conquered Lacrosse Unlimited, 10-9, Monday, but it wasn’t easy. It even involved a pretty sizable comeback.
“We were very worried,” said Rusty Red’s Bill Edell, recently retired pro player with Boston’s indoor and outdoor lacrosse teams, who, like most of Rusty Red, has been playing with his masters club team for at least a dozen years. “It was barely enough to win.”LAX Unlimited, based out of Long Island, NY, came out firing. With a couple of quick goals off fast breaks in the first quarter, and an immediate ferocity in picking up loose ground balls, by the beginning of the second quarter, the Long Island team was up, 5-1. “We came out hard,” agreed LAX Unlimited’s Pete White, who scored five of the team’s goals. “We played well, but these guys have won the past four years, so we knew they were gonna come back on us.”Rusty Red’s Randy Fraser was the first to put the ball in the net for his team, firing a hard shot over the left shoulder of Unlimited goalie Tim Rossi. The team’s skillful offensive play suddenly leapt out of the hat as attack players rapidly spun the ball to one another from behind the goal and from every angle of the 8-meter fan until a hole opened for a shot.”I thought we were in trouble. Once our offense got rolling, everything cleaned up,” said Fraser, who was named MVP. “John Zulberti and the rest of those guys are some of the best feeders out there. Our midis knew to cut. We got most of our goals on assists.”When Zulberti wasn’t flicking over the last pass before a teammate swung the ball into the goal, he was scoring himself.
With a couple minutes remaining in the third quarter, Red was closing in on Unlimited, and by the time the fourth quarter kicked off, the game was tied, 6-6.”By the time we got rolling in the second half, we ended up being back and forth the whole way,” Fraser said. “It was a lot more transition.”Eye for an eyeNeither team let any goal go unanswered, but while LAX Unlimited relied on snappy breaks and long shots, Rusty Red was running tricky offensive plays. At one point, Rusty Red’s Steve Govett dumped the ball in behind his back after faking a high-corner shot, and the whole team ran a screen play, managing to whip Unlimited goalie Tim McElligatt’s attention to the right side of the field while rocketing a shot in from his left.
“It was the old fake flip; the banana in the tailpipe,” grinned Edell. “We started to get ground balls, playing a little smarter and a little more relaxed. When you feel confident and get a little bit of a lead, you can settle the ball down and rest. Positive things start to happen.”There was never much of a lead. As McElligatt and Red goalie Tim Shea deflected one bullet after the next, the score fell, 9-9, with a minute left in regulation. It looked as if overtime was imminent. Then the Red attack came on hard and Fraser snuck another low shot into the net with 12 seconds left. Victory came next.”It was the best final I think we’ve had,” Fraser said. “Usually … well, we haven’t had to struggle too much. It was the face-offs that came up pretty important. It frustrates a team to be on defense from (the get-go). It was a team effort, for sure. And those guys have a great team this year. It was a tough game.”Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 748-2936 or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.