Vail Mountain lax shocks Battle Mountain, 11-8
EAST VAIL — Little brother just beat big brother.
Vail Mountain School boys lacrosse pulled the upset against No. 5-ranked Battle Mountain, 11-8, on Tuesday at Bandoni Alumni Field in East Vail.
That should send some shockwaves throughout the Mountain Conference. And it made for a darn nice Senior Day for the Gore Rangers.
“Very proud of the boys right now,” Vail Mountain School coach Matt Felser said. “Very fitting on Senior Night that the boys who started the program four years ago could have a game like this and put it all together. To see them do this is special.”
And downright surprising. Battle Mountain’s two losses previous to Tuesday came against Dawson and Windsor, the No. 1- and 2-ranked squads in 4A. Vail Mountain School is only in its second year as a varsity program and the Huskies beat the Gore Rangers, 18-1, last season.
Yes, Battle Mountain was playing its third game in five days, yet Huskies coach Jerry Nichols offered no excuses.
“I want to congratulate Vail Mountain School,” Nichols said. “They have a great coaching staff. They have a great bunch of kids. They outplayed us from the first whistle to the last whistle. They outplayed us from start to finish. That’s all there is to it. We lost. They were the better team today.”
Can lightning strike?
Vail Mountain School (4-4) got off to a quick start taking a 5-1 lead. That was capped by a Burke Fancher goal. He scored and got decked for his troubles. The Huskies’ offender got 2 minutes for his trouble.
That was part of a parade to the box for the Huskies (4-3). Battle Mountain spent a good portion of the game bickering with the officials, something that coach Nichols said, his team will have to address in the future.
Down 8-4 at the half, the Huskies seemed to be stabilizing matters as Kevin Nichols scored the only goal in the third.
Since this was a Vail Mountain School lacrosse game, weather was required to play a role. With 10:13 left in regulation, lightning was spotted near the field, forcing a mandatory 30-minute delay.
“To be honest, we went into our workout room,” Vail Mountain School co-captain Tyler Hancock said. “We switched off on (riding) the bikes. We played some music and we talked about keeping the intensity up and just having fun out there.”
Once the teams returned to the field, it seemed like it was striking midnight on Cinderella. The Huskies’ Charlie Morrow scored twice to close Vail Mountain School’s lead to 8-7.
Vail Mountain School’s Hancock was stunning on faceoffs all afternoon, and the Gore Rangers needed a lift with 5:16 left, holding onto a one-goal lead. Hancock not only won the ensuing faceoff, but raced down the field and ripped the twine.
Hancock on the next faceoff and Riley Kilgore pushed the lead up to 10-7.
“It’s just putting in the practice and having really good wings work for you,” Hancock said. “Teams who do well in the faceoff have good wings. It’s not just the faceoff guy. It’s guys helping out. Our wings got in there and really helped out.”
That is the proper expression of modesty. Hancock was the MVP with those two faceoff wins and goals in 18 seconds.
Meanwhile, senior goalie John Linn was under assault by a desperate Huskies offense.
“It was a little scary at the end there,” he said. “They’ve got some great shooters. I thought, ‘Get in front of that ball.’ It’s a significant win for us. We can hang with the big guys in the league.”
Linn, one of the team’s three seniors along with Riley Kilgore and Callan Conniff, added that he thought Tuesday was the best defensive effort his team put forward this season.
The good news for Battle Mountain is that, though a Northern Division game, this loss shouldn’t hurt the team in its quest for a division title. The Huskies can still lock up a spot in the Mountain Conference title game with wins against Summit County on Tuesday and Glenwood Springs (May 2).
More importantly, the Huskies have to re-gather themselves before heading to Fruita Monument on Friday.
Meanwhile, Vail Mountain School leaves this one with a huge shot in the arm as they try to qualify for the state playoffs.
“Every single one of players played to their potential today,” Felser said. “We’ve seen it in spurts throughout the season. They did what they could do.”
Vail Mountain School hosts Clear Creek on Thursday at 4:30 p.m.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and email@example.com.