Late driving goal in 4th quarter lifts Wildcats
Despite the Fruita Monument High School boys lacrosse team being a man down midway through the fourth quarter of a tie game Saturday afternoon, Nate Lyon went crashing toward Telluride’s goal.
It was the culmination of a few things for the Wildcats — a resilience that had been present throughout the game, even as Telluride erased Fruita’s three-goal lead; an aggressiveness and willingness to attack the cage, even through heavy defensive traffic; and a ride-game that created turnovers near the middle of the field.
So when Lyon plowed through the Miners’ defense with the game tied 6-6 and scored the man-down goal immediately after a Telluride turnover, that spark led Fruita Monument to an 8-6 victory at Walker Field.
“We’ve worked this offseason on our play in different situations,” Fruita Monument coach Kevin Costanza said. “For them to make sure we maintain what we work on in practice and for them to not feel like they have to rush themselves, that’s great to see. The fact that we came through at the end shows all the offseason work that was put in.”
The Wildcats (3-0) had several early runs against the Miners (2-3), including a 3-0 spurt to start the game, with Dallin Thygerson, Michael Steele and James Compton scoring in the first 17 minutes. But in the final six minutes of the first half, Telluride found the net twice to cut into Fruita’s lead.
Fruita answered with two goals to start the third quarter, opening a 5-2 advantage, but that lead was erased by the tail end of the third quarter when Rye Livermore scored on a Telluride counterattack to tie it at 5-5.
Fruita retook the lead on Fuzzy Hockersmith’s goal with 44.8 seconds remaining in the third quarter, but Livermore answered 90 seconds into the fourth quarter.
That’s when Lyon’s goal broke the tie and Thygerson added another score to pad Fruita’s lead.
Costanza said the Wildcats benefitted from extra possession gained by a strong ride-game.
“That’s one of our main focuses in practice during the week,” Costanza said. “We want to ride hard. If we can get those possessions back that we’d otherwise give away, we feel like that can lead to goals for us so it’s one of the main points of emphasis. We really emphasize that, and they really came through in a big way.”
Steele and Thygerson led the Wildcats with two goals apiece. Lyon, Hockersmith, Compton and Garrett Morse had assists. Fruita found success on offense despite leading scorer Rylan Harmon not playing against Telluride.
Costanza also credited goalie Randall Fox, who was pulled briefly after the first quarter, but returned in the second half and finished with nine saves.
“Randall Fox did a great job,” Costanza said. “We had to pull him there in the second to give Jeff Hicks a go and we needed to get Randall back out there. He really held it down for us there at the end of the game.”
Fruita Monument travels to the Front Range this weekend for games against Boulder and George Washington. This is the first time since 2012 that the Wildcats have started the season with three consecutive wins.
Pine Creek 10, Grand Junction 0: The Eagles (3-2) and their stout defense proved to be too much for the Tigers (2-3) at Walker Field.
Pine Creek posted a 4-0 lead in the opening quarter, its first two goals coming on long shots. On the third goal, the Eagles caught the Tigers’ goalie out of his crease as a turnover occurred, and flicked a short shot into an empty net.
The Eagles added two more goals across the second and third quarters, slowing their pace and honing in on defense. The Eagles even had several man-up opportunities in the second half, but kept the pace of the game down until the fourth quarter, when counterattacks led to four more goals to pad the lead.
Grand Junction tried to poke at Pine Creek’s zone defense, which flowed and switched well against the Tigers’ attacks. Grand Junction coach Chris Mack said the Tigers attempted to pierce Pine Creek’s defense, but basic mistakes ended up derailing any offensive momentum.
“Honestly, we worked all week at setting up different schemes and things and working the ball around in our formations,” Mack said.
“The biggest thing we struggled with today was stick skills. It’s difficult to be able to do much when you can’t circle the ball around a couple times without throwing it out of bounds.”