Junction wins hard-fought game with Wildcats
There was a point after halftime in Tuesday night’s Fruita Monument and Grand Junction girls lacrosse game where the Wildcats scored three goals in roughly 20 seconds.
Each time the league-leading Tigers threw a punch, the rival Wildcats counterpunched.
For Grand Junction, it wasn’t the most explosive offensive night. Rather, it took a slow-and-steady, consistent performance near the crease for Grand Junction to sour Fruita’s senior night at Walker Field with an 18-14 win.
It was a different look on offense from the Tigers, who lead the Mountain Lacrosse League with 169 goals, 53 goals ahead of second-place Battle Mountain.
“I would have liked to see them push it up the field a little more and give me a break from a heart attack,” Grand Junction coach Alexis Rawlings said. “But no, I’m proud of both teams. It was a hard-fought game, and it was good to see our girls play with heart. They had to work a little slower to win.”
Grand Junction (9-2, 7-0) won the majority of face-offs, topping the Wildcats 18-11. From the circle, the Tigers struggled to possess the ball at times, but once they moved it into the offensive third of the field, they found Kacie Jay and Halle Harrison in front of the net. Harrison and Jay each had a team-leading three assists. Ashley Preuss led the Tigers with four goals, and Jay chipped in three goals.
“Halle and Kacie Jay are like one and the same person,” Rawlings said. “They’re always seeing each other there in the crease. They’ve kind of been our go-to, and they’re basically unstoppable if we’re making good passes in there.”
Fruita Monument goalie Courtney Petek kept the Wildcats (3-6, 2-5) in the game before the Tigers pulled away with a surge in the middle of the second half.
Petek saw 45 shots against the Tigers and notched 18 saves, including stonewalling the Tigers late in the first half.
Lindsey Burenheide led the Wildcats with six goals, including a handful of physical finishes where she muscled her way into the crease.
“I thought my girls did an excellent job,” Fruita coach Mark Twardowski said. “This is the best we’ve played Junction. We had them on the ropes several times, and this is the closest game Junction’s had this year. They’re taking us seriously now. Every single girl on this team was great. We put a lot of shots on goal, and Courtney was awesome in goal.”
Grand Junction continues its undefeated roll through the Mountain League. The Tigers could clinch a state playoff spot during the next two games, but if they lose, it would set up a final showdown with Battle Mountain for the league’s lone playoff spot should the Huskies win out.
“I think it’s hard for the seniors because this is the first year they’ve been close to playoffs, and that’s fueling them,” Rawlings said. “Everyone is fighting for the seniors to get back to Denver, replay some of the teams in Denver and hopefully make a deep run in playoffs.”