Tigers show their mettle in physical win
Everything about the Grand Junction girls lacrosse game against Battle Mountain on Monday was a little bit angry.
The hits, the grunts, the goals, even the sky was spitting cold rain.
The Tigers are a week removed from relinquishing the No. 10 ranking in Class 5A and dropped two games against quality opponents in Denver, a 16-10 loss to Douglas County and a 11-7 loss to 5A’s new No. 10, Palmer Ridge.
But at Long Family Park, the Tigers rediscovered their “killer instinct” and notched a 17-16 victory over Battle Mountain.
“We’re kind of the Tim Tebow team,” senior Megan Gromke said. “We didn’t really get it going until the second half. That gave us the killer instinct. We played the first half, noticed we were starting to lag again, and then found it.”
Gromke, in particular, personified the Tigers getting back on track, according to coach Alexis Rawlings.
Gromke flew toward sidelines chasing loose balls, barreled through opposing players and drew the occasional foul. At one point in the first half, she fully circled the net before beating the goalie low. The usually defensive-oriented Gromke finished with a game-high five goals and set a physical tone by battling around the net.
“Megan is the one person on this team, I tell you, she just fights every game,” Rawlings said. “You tell her to go on defense, and she goes on defense. She’s mainly a defensive person, so for her to go on attack today for us was a big deal. She saved us with her five goals.”
Kacie Jay continued her offensive outburst this season. Jay had four goals against Battle Mountain and has been part of a dynamic offensive combo, along with Halle Harrison, for the Tigers. One of Jay’s goals began behind midfield, when she intercepted a pass and carried it nearly untouched to the crease before finishing over the goalie’s shoulder.
“Kacie Jay has been phenomenal,” Rawlings said. “She’s improved from day one, and we’re working with her becoming more of a team player with Halle Harrison in attack because the two of them together are impossible to stop. We’re working on passes around the crease versus her working in the crease, which is what she’s more known for.”
Despite dropping two games on the road, the Tigers remain undefeated in league play and particularly tough to beat in league road games. This season, the Tigers have outscored road league opponents 21-4. Grand Junction will go on the road to face Aspen, which it topped 19-7 at home earlier in the season.
“We have to keep playing the way we played today, with a lot of heart,” Rawlings said. “They just can’t let down. I mean, if they score five, they have got to keep pushing and just never let down.”