Nicoletti's draw skills, scoring ability pace Junction
The Grand Junction High School girls lacrosse team had 16 draw controls Thursday night and carried that momentum to a 19-4 victory over rival Fruita Monument at Walker Field.
The Tigers remain undefeated after a victory against the young Wildcats (1-9, 0-6) and Grand Junction coach Morgan Holloway said Alex Nicoletti’s success on draw controls was key.
“When she wins a draw, everybody else follows suit,” Holloway said. “She’s huge for our team right now.”
Nicoletti was one of two seniors with six goals for the Tigers (9-0, 4-0 Mountain League), with her and Kaylie Thompson finding the net early and often. Nicoletti added two assists and only one of her seven shots on goal was turned away.
The East Carolina University signee’s mix of speed and size was troublesome for Fruita early, as she scored the opening goal a few minutes after the first whistle. Fruita matched that quickly, with Zoe Williams equalizing, but Grand Junction pounded out four goals in less than two minutes before Williams scored again.
Thompson started the run, whipping in a shot after rounding behind the net and, after a goal from Taylor Paumen, Thompson added another before Nicoletti’s second goal.
Both teams traded goals until the Tigers, up 7-3, added two more goals before halftime, including one from Nicoletti that came moments before the halftime buzzer.
Nicoletti said chemistry allowed the attack group to flow, whether it came from quick passing or players crashing to the cage.
“We’ve always had really great chemistry, but I feel like this year our coaches have really stepped up our game,” Nicoletti said. “We’ve kinda figured it out from there. Everybody on our team can score and we all know our strengths and weaknesses. There’s a lot of trust there, too.”
Leading 9-3 at halftime, Grand Junction opened the second half with a 6-0 run. Tia Sewell started the scoring less than one minute into the second half, Katie Carozza added another less than 20 seconds later and Thompson scored 10 seconds after that. Nicoletti started the running clock by putting the Tigers ahead 13-3, then Thompson and Sewell each found the net before Madi Haller stopped the rally with a Fruita goal after a free position opportunity.
Grand Junction scored four more goals to close out the victory, with Nicoletti adding her sixth goal in the final minutes.
The senior is creeping closer to a milestone, Holloway said. With the six goals against Fruita, Nicoletti is four goals away from reaching 100 career goals. She’s been a varsity contributor for four years and Holloway said Nicoletti’s impact can’t be overstated. “For her to be able to get that as a senior is an incredible accomplishment,” Holloway said.
Thompson also shined on senior night in only her fourth game back from injury. Holloway said the senior fell right in with an attack group that’s gelled all season.
“We were really pleased with her tonight,” Holloway said. “She was out for the first half of the season, so having her back has been a huge addition.”
Thompson, for her part, said a victory against Fruita was sweet. The Tigers, during Thompson’s freshman and sophomore year, struggled against a more experienced Fruita Monument team. To be able to come out on top this time around was special.
“That was awesome,” Thompson said. “Especially against Fruita. For the past few years, we’ve had our troubles winning against Fruita and we got them twice this year — and on senior night. That’s very exciting, especially for our seniors.”