Defense doesn’t rest, the Huskies beat VMS
EDWARDS — Battle Mountain lacrosse actually played a home game on Wednesday, March 28.
The Huskies do have white uniforms. And they looked good in the home unis, knocking off the Vail Mountain School, 7-2, to complete a season sweep of the Gore Rangers.
While everyone in Huskies nation knocks wood as they read this, Battle Mountain’s defense has allowed all of 20 goals in five games, and eight of those came in a season opening 8-6 loss to Golden.
The likes of Bryce Runckel, Ricky Cuny, Jake Bukovich, Nick Hancock and Mac Schmidt are making it hard for opposing attackers to get good looks at the Huskies’ net.
“We have five long poles that we’re really confident in,” Huskies coach Pat Doherty said. “Not only do we play a defense where we’re rotating all the long poles in and out of the game, but we’re confident in both our defense and our goalie to save that shot.”
The goalie would be Connor Underwood, aka Undy, who was on his game Wednesday.
“We want to keep them outside,” Runckel said. “And Undy has been stopping everything. If they shoot anywhere from 10-15 yards, we have faith in him.”
As for the communication among the defense, Runckel said, “We yell at each other a lot, but it’s nice yelling.”
If anything, the Huskies (4-1 overall, 4-0 in the Western Conference) need to add a little offense, which historically is weird. During the last five regular seasons, Battle Mountain has averaged 10.5 goals per game. The bigger issue has been stopping opponents.
In this brave, new world, one certainly cannot blame Battle Mountain’s Jeremy Sforzo for the lack of offense. He assisted the first four goals against the Gore Rangers. He was not credited for the assist on the Huskies’ fifth because he scored it.
The senior had a pretty darn good day with one goal and five helpers.
“We started out very slow,” Sforzo said. “We just started playing our offense and everything started clicking. It was easy to do dodge and look to feed. It was awesome.”
Offense is something for which both Battle Mountain and Vail Mountain are looking. By graduating Luke Verratti, Tyler Hancock, Griffin O’Connell, Kyle Negomir and Dylan Hardenbergh, the Gore Rangers lost 167 of the 204 goals they scored last year.
It’s going to take a little time to retool for VMS (1-3, 1-2), but not as long as the rest of the Western circuit may think, according to coach Bobby Ecker.
“We have a whole new squad this year. We’re young. We’re calling it ‘Commit to the grind.’ We’ll get there. We’ve just got to keep working. A lot of our team is new and we have to produce a little more offense. We’ll get there.”
Ironically, VMS’ Henry Hancock got the visitors on the board first for a 1-0 lead after 12 minutes. Then Sforzo was dodging and dishing, twice to Tucker Morrow and a pair to Michael Barrows for a 4-1 halftime lead.
Both teams want to be a little more patient and little less selfish on the offense end to produce more chances and more goals.
Big games ahead
That’s going to be key in the games ahead. VMS is at Ponderosa on Friday, March 30, and at Thompson Valley on Saturday, March 31. Those are some big-boy nonconference opponents.
Meanwhile, Battle Mountain hosts Steamboat Springs at 5:30 p.m. on Friday in what will be a game for the league lead. Both the Huskies and Sailors are undefeated in the Western, while Summit County, who always tends to give Battle Mountain tough matches, is at 3-1 with its only loss coming to Steamboat.
“We’re certainly going to work on that tomorrow,” Doherty said. “We need to move better off (the) ball and we need to move the ball a bit more and be a little less selfish.”