Short-handed GJ falls in OT to St. Mary’s

Grand Junction goalie Beth Jennings makes one of her 11 saves Wednesday in the Tigers’ 11-9 loss to St. Mary’s Academy in the first round of the playoffs.

With three minutes remaining in regulation, the Grand Junction girls lacrosse team was short three players.

Colorado Mesa recruit Megan Gromke was ejected with her second yellow card and subsequent red card during the first half, leaving the Tigers one player down for the majority of the game. Leading scorer Kacie Jay left with two cards of her own in the second half.

The grand total of six cards put the Tigers another player down. Per Colorado High School Activities Association rules, four cards puts a team one player down, five cards means two players, and so on.

Despite that, 13th-seeded Grand Junction pushed St. Mary’s Academy to double overtime before the No. 20 Wildcats pulled off the upset to advance to the second round playoffs with an 11-9 win Tuesday at Walker Field.

St. Mary’s was issued two cards, but never went down a player. Grand Junction doubled the Wildcats’ penalty-box visits, and the Tigers were assessed 38 fouls to St. Mary’s 14.

“It hurt that we were three men down in the second half, and it really hurt us in overtime,” Tigers coach Alexis Rawlings said. “We knew coming in that Front Range referees call tighter games, and it was something we were trying to adjust to, and it ended up costing us.”

Grand Junction goalie Beth Jennings kept the Tigers in the game despite the three-player disadvantage. Jennings notched 11 saves, including two in the closing moments of regulation to force overtime. At one point near the end of regulation, the senior goalie used her foot to send a shot twirling inches over the crossbar.

“She’s a senior, and she really didn’t want to see it end,” Rawlings said. “She did an amazing job today, and I’m really proud of her.”

Grand Junction took a 7-6 lead with five minutes left in regulation before the teams traded goals. Trailing 8-7, St. Marys had a goal called off because of a crease violation. With less than a minute left, St. Mary’s tied it 8-8 to force overtime. The final minute of the game took five minutes to complete.

The squads traded goals once more in the first overtime period before the Wildcats (6-9) pulled away with two goals in the second overtime period.

Emily Staker led St. Marys with four goals and was able to work her way into the crease using lateral speed.

Halle Harrison led the Tigers in scoring with three goals. Her hat trick came in the first 10 minutes of the game,and helped Grand Junction take a 6-3 lead.

Kristina Sewell, Bailey Reiners and Delaney Robinson had two goals apiece. Jay had three of the Tigers’ five assists. Jay finished fourth in the Mountain League with 49 goals and led the league with 34 assists. 

The loss ended Mountain League champion Grand Junction’s season at 13-3.

“Heart was big for us this year,” Rawlings said. “We moved the ball well on offense, and our defense did a great job really shutting people down.”


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