That’s a first: VMS lacrosse beats Aspen |

That’s a first: VMS lacrosse beats Aspen

Vail Mountain School's Griffin O'Connell moves the ball around Aspen's goal on Thursday in East Vail. O'Connel had two goals and two assists as the Gore Rangers beat, 11-8, for the first time at the varsity level.
Chris Dillmann | |

EAST VAIL — Ladies and germs, this could well be a developing situation.

Vail Mountain School lacrosse knocked off Aspen, 11-8, on a chilly Thursday afternoon at Bandoni Alumni Field for the program’s first varsity victory over the Skiers.

It is still March.

It was a nonconference game.

But … Aspen, along with Steamboat Springs and Battle Mountain, is one the standard bearers of the sport in this part of the state, and VMS, through its play, seems intent on joining those behemoths.

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“It’s awesome,” VMS co-captain Tyler Hancock said. “It was just a team win. It means something.”

“It’s a statement for the program,” VMS coach Bobby Ecker said. “In our short history we haven’t beaten Aspen. That’s a milestone, and it says a lot about where we are right now.”

That would be 5-1, which is pretty heady stuff for the Gore Rangers.

Way to go, Jake

The turning point was a five-goal run for VMS to start the fourth quarter, which the Gore Rangers and Skiers entered tied at six. More specifically, within that run, junior Jake Dippy stole a pass in Aspen’s end and flicked it immediately to Luke Verratti for quick goal and an 8-6 lead.

“That was just a great team effort play,” Verratti said. “… Dippy just outhustled everyone and had a nice, heads up play and was not afraid to get hit.”

And, yes, Dippy got crushed as he passed it to Verratti. That was a two-minute infraction for Aspen (3-2). Technically, VMS didn’t score on the advantage, but a few seconds after with Dylan Hardenbergh feeding Verratti for his third goal of the fourth and fourth tally of the game.

Lacrosse is all about momentum and possession and who better to keep that going that Hancock. He won the ensuing faceoff and took it right down the field and scored eight seconds later.

Griffin O’Connell finished the run with a simple, but beautiful power move from behind the net with 5:45 left in the fourth.

Bro power

That rough six-minute stretch was VMS at its finest. As with any coach in any sport, Ecker is searching for that elusive consistency for the whole game. The good news is that the Gore Rangers are finding an identity in back on defense as well.

Goalie Nick Charles was big factor in this one. He got help from defenders like Tim Herwig, who got a rare start on Thursday, Peter Tice and freshman John Verratti.

“I’ve grown to love it. I want to get in. I want to be shot at,” Charles said. “The key is communication. As soon as that breaks down, you start to have issues. But I think as we keep that communication up, it’s manageable.”

And, yes, the brotherhood runs strong on this team with the Verrattis, the Hardenberghs (Dylan and Ian) and the Hancocks (Tyler and Henry). In fact, Tyler fed Henry for a Hancock goal in the first half.

VMS doesn’t get much rest as it returns to Western Conference play today at Summit County.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, and @cfreud.

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