Five-goal outburst lifts Fruita past Junction
One illegal stick penalty completely changed Tuesday night’s boys lacrosse game between Fruita Monument and Grand Junction.
Down 3-1 to start the second quarter, Fruita’s Aidan Woomer brought the Wildcats within a goal after plowing into three defenders and flicking the ball over his shoulder into the net.
Woomer’s goal, with the help of a three-minute illegal stick penalty against the Tigers, sparked a five-goal explosion in just more than four minutes. From there, the Wildcats cruised to a 10-5 win at Walker Field.
Woomer and Archer Maddox each scored three goals for the Wildcats (2-0). All of Woomer’s goals came within a three-minute span in the second quarter.
“The level of focus and intensity went up this year and I think that really helped us,” Maddox said. “It really paid off in tonight’s game. It feels good to win by five goals and not have to squeak by in the fourth quarter. We have to do it one more time (against the Tigers), but the intensity of tonight is something we can use.”
Grand Junction (0-2) dominated possession during the first quarter, controlling the ball around the net for more than eight minutes. Scott Foster and Zach Kiel worked around the net, and set up Luke Dohm and Keith Rockwood for early goals. Keil added a goal of his own during Grand Junction’s 3-0 run.
But at the quarter break, Fruita coach Mark Young told his defense to apply pressure to the ball handlers to try to prevent Grand Junction from just passing the ball around the net.
“I knew that if we gave time to their ball-handlers, we’d be in trouble,” Young said. “I just told them to be a little tougher, and really that made all the difference.”
The illegal stick penalty, Grand Junction coach James States said, was hard for the Tigers to overcome. One of the Tigers’ sticks was determined to have too deep a pocket, drawing the penalty.
“That three-minute stick penalty in the second quarter changed the entire tempo of the game for us,” States said. “Momentum swung their way after that and we couldn’t get it back.”
Strong leadership has created the backbone of Fruita’s team, Young said.
Players called preseason practices two months before the season to build skills and team chemistry.
“I’m not saying we didn’t have leadership last year, but we have a group of seniors this year that have really taken charge this year,” Young said. “They got everyone out there and enthused, and you can really see the payoff now that the season has started.”
The Tigers are still trying to iron out fundamentals, but had five players score goals Tuesday.
“We just need to build confidence and work on the little things, ground balls and good ball movement,” States said. “They’re improving every day and I think this team is just as good as last year’s team. It’s just getting the players to jell.”