Vail Valley lax: Devils, Huskies get their due
EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado ” Expansion teams don’t get much love. For a history lesson, check out the 1962 New York Mets, who befuddled their Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel on their way to a 40-120 mark.
Though not as Mets-like, Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley boys lacrosse took their lumps against veteran squads in their first seasons as CHSAA teams, but the Huskies and Devils did get some love with some wins, and some respect from around the Mountain Conference with a host of postseason honors.
For the Devils, Ethan Andree, Zach Bailey, John Landreth, Otto Jordan and Beto Chanez made all-conference. For the Huskies, Coleby Henzlik, Spencer Currie and J.P. Ferzacca were the same, while William Thompson and Stephen Licciardi made the second team. Both Andree and Henzlik represented their teams in the all-state game after the season.
And for those looking for sunnier days on the local lacrosse horizon, of these 10, only Andree, Bailey and Henzlik graduate this spring.
Eagle Valley’s two seniors were critical for the Devils’ first step into varsity lacrosse. On a team which struggled at times with its goaltending situation, Andree was huge presence on defense, while Bailey was quite the terror on the offensive end.
In the team’s first win of the season, a 9-6 decision over the Huskies, Bailey had five goals and Andree stabilized the defense allowing the Devils to climb out of a 5-2 hole.
“They’re both on opposite ends of the field and they were tremendous leaders as captains along with Mark Barkman,” Devils coach Eric Mandeville said. “They were key in helping build a program.”
The Devils made steps in that direction with the aforementioned win against Battle Mountain in March as well as beating Glenwood Springs and nearly knocking off Grand Valley at the end of the year.
With guys like Landreth, Jordan and Chanez returning, Eagle Valley is excited for next spring.
“We had 85 kids out for lacrosse (between the boys and girls teams) this spring. That’s just amazing,” Mandeville said. “Looking at the future of the program, we’ve got a lot of strength in the ninth- and 10th-graders as well as the feeder program run by WECMRD. It’s now no longer, ‘What’s lacrosse?’ It’s ‘What sets do you run?'”
Battle Mountain is in a similar situation to its cross-county rivals. The Huskies, with the exception of Henzlik, are young. Battle Mountain flashed its talent with a three-game winning streak toward the end of the season, including a 15-3 thumping of Eagle Valley in the rematch in April.
Henzlik dropped six goals on the Devils in that game, and easily led Battle Mountain in scoring. Currie’s selection was a surprise because he was the goalie of a 3-10 team. For those who watched the junior all season, that was actually no surprise. He kept the Huskies in more than their fair share of games.
“It always says something when you’re selected from a 3-10 team,” Huskies coach Bob Daino said. “The goals scored against him weren’t due to him. You can only be Superman so long. In my opinion, he was the best goalie in the league.
Ferzacca grew into an attacking role with the Huskies and ended up scoring the game-winner in Huskies’ first win against Glenwood.
Licciardi, a junior, earned his postseason kudos by becoming a defensive anchor with an innate sense for positioning. Thompson, who scored Battle Mountain’s first goal as a varsity team, was omnipresent with his hustle, especially on ground balls.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.