Channeling their inner wolves

Inspired by halftime speech, GJ beats Fruita

Grand Junction’s Marques Combs sets up a shot as Kolt Black of Fruita Monument defends Friday night at Walker Field. The Tigers won 10-5.

Fruita Monument keeper Isaiah Ripetti clears a ball after a save Friday night against Grand Junction.

Andy Bowen wasn’t happy at halftime, so he channeled Leonardo DiCaprio in a speech to get his teammate’s attention.

“I took my inspiration from the movie ‘The Wolf of Wall Street,’ ” Bowen said. “It’s a crazy movie, and his speeches are crazy, but it’s a good kind of crazy that gets you motivated.”

Bowen, a senior and one of the Grand Junction High School lacrosse team’s captains, used the same colorful language and fiery intensity used in the movie by the Hollywood A-Lister to make his point.

It worked, and the Tigers scored seven second-half goals to beat Fruita Monument 10-5 at Walker Field on Friday.

“A big theme for us this year is team and family,” Bowen said. “For me it was about getting them fired up to win with me. Not just for the seniors, but for Grand Junction lacrosse.”

Playing in front of a large, boisterous crowd, both teams were physical, and Fruita Monument (3-7, 2-5 Mountain League) came out more focused to start the game.

Falling behind 4-1 to Fruita was irritating, but Tigers’ head coach James States wasn’t too concerned.

“I think it was just nerves. This game is so intense, we were just a little flat-footed,” he said. “We made a few adjustments, and they didn’t score another goal until the fourth quarter.”

Bowen’s halftime speech had an immediate impact. A little more than one minute into the third quarter, Marques Combs scored his second goal of the game to knot the score at 4-4.

Bowen said the game changed in the second quarter when the Tigers’ defense clamped down on the Wildcats, holding them scoreless.

“I felt like we had the momentum going into the second half because they put up four goals on us, but then they didn’t score in the second quarter,” he said.

The second half was a steady stream of relentless attacks by Grand Junction (6-3, 4-2). Wildcats’ goalkeeper Isaiah Ripetti made a number of saves, but the Tigers kept the pressure up.

The Tigers took their first lead at 5-4 on a goal by Logan McAlister, then upped the lead to 6-4 on a splendid demonstration of interior passing. Kirk Fletcher found some open space in front of the net when Logan Branson whipped a perfect pass from behind the net to Fletcher, who flicked his shot in.

Fruita didn’t buckle, and Jacob Lynch scored his second goal of the game with 8:18 to play to cut the lead to 6-5.

Before the Grand Junction crowd could let the anxiety of a one-goal lead settle in their stomachs, the Tigers took control with two quick goals in the next 50 seconds.

Sophomore Trevor Urban scored with 8:18 remaining, and nine seconds later, Charlie Ruckman found the net. The Tigers added two late scores to finish the scoring.

The Grand Junction defense shut down the Fruita Monument attack after the 4-1 lead. With Jacob Hart in goal and the defense playing physical, the Tigers shut out the Wildcats in the second and third quarters.

Combs, Ruckman, McAlister and Stephen Foster scored two goals each.

Urban said they just needed to settle down after the slow start.

“We had a couple of bad plays and missed some passes we should have picked off, and we just said, ‘Let’s start fresh,’ and that’s what we did,”  he said.

The second quarter was played at a furious pace by both teams, but the play was messy for half the period until Foster scored for Grand Junction. From that point on, the Tigers took control of the momentum and the game.


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