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Tigers hang with first-place Skiers in defeat

Grand Junction High School’s Zach Kiel, 23, fires a shot past Aspen goalie Jordan Cottrell for a goal during the first half of Monday’s game at Walker Field. Kiel and the Tigers lost to the Skiers, 10-4. Aspen is presently in first place in the Mountain League.

Between the Grand Junction and Aspen high school lacrosse teams, they average a combined 20 goals per game.

So a 2-1 Aspen lead after one quarter, with only pockets of clean passing, was something Tigers coach James States needed to adjust.

“We just talk about playing smart lacrosse, using each other and playing as a team,” States said. “It seemed like in the first quarter we were flat and weren’t really jelling with each other, but we fixed it up after that.”

Grand Junction opened the second quarter with a renewed sense of possession, and with goals from Luke Dohm and long-stick midfielder Zach Kiel. But the Tigers couldn’t overcome a 3-0 Aspen run that the Skiers carried to a 10-4 victory.

“Ground balls just killed us,” States said. “You have to hand it to Aspen, they outplayed us on the ground. They also shut us down on defense. Normally, we average around 30 shots on goal and tonight we had 18. That tells you they did something right.

“If you can’t pick the ball and control the ball, you can’t win.”

Kiel was one of the bright spots offensively for the Tigers. From beyond midfield, he rumbled directly down the center of the field, awkwardly angling his long stick to score an uncontested goal. Dohm led the Tigers with two goals. No Aspen player scored more than two goals, but eight players notched goals for the Skiers (10-1, 7-0 Mountain League).

In a nonleague match early in April, States said that goalkeeper Kolton Flick kept the score close in a 10-9 loss.

Flick kept the Tigers (6-6, 5-3) competitive despite Grand Junction being outshot 36-18. He notched 18 saves, 12 in the first half, and spent some time possessing in the field.

Flick blocked shots with bare skin, the handle of his stick, whatever he could get on the ball.

“He’s been on fire,” States said. “When you have a goalie playing like that, it just lifts the whole team. He’s been able to keep us in games we have no business being in. I’m proud of him for the year he’s put together. He’s definitely standing out, even though when your goalie is doing most of the work, you’re not going to win.”

Flick has 138 saves and a 67 percent save percentage on the year. In the short history of the program, Flick broke his own single-season saves record twice.

While Thursday’s nonleague game against Fruita Monument has no playoff implications, States said that the second meeting of the crosstown rivals will be intense, particularly with the match being Fruita’s senior night.

Neither squad has swept a season series, something Grand Junction hopes to do Thursday night at 7 p.m. at Stocker Stadium.

The Tigers won the first, league matchup 11-5 after a strong second half push against Fruita’s zone defense. Grand Junction piled on with seven-goal third quarter after a 2-2 tie at half.

“It’s still a Fruita-Junction game, and they’re going to be pretty pumped up,” States said. “We’ve just had them focus on the basics, just staying in our game of lacrosse and not playing theirs like we did against Aspen.”


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