Patience pays off for Junction: Tigers control pace to stop Demons
The Grand Junction High School boys lacrosse team understands how important it is to set the tempo.
Friday afternoon at Canyon View Park, the Tigers used a patient offensive approach to hold off Durango 6-4.
“Ball control was our game plan from the beginning,” Grand Junction coach James States said. “I think in the first half we held the ball for 22 of 24 minutes.”
After the two teams traded first-quarter goals, the Tigers (3-1) found themselves one man up after a Durango penalty early in the second quarter. Using the advantage, Grand Junction picked up the pace and scored two goals in a span of 40 seconds. Taylor Watkins scored the first, followed by Kris States’ tally to take a 3-1 lead.
“That was huge,” James States said. “When you control the ball you can usually force the defense into a mistake, and that’s exactly what happened.”
Durango’s Paul Bikis scored a goal three minutes later to cut the Tigers’ lead to 3-2 at halftime. The Demons struck first in the second half when Devin Owen scored, tying the game at 3-3.
The Demons tied the game despite not having nearly as many opportunities as the Tigers. Durango finished with only 11 shots against Tigers goalie Kolton Flick. Grand Junction ended with 29 shots, and the Tigers spent most of the game on their offensive end, which eventually paid off. Watkins added a breakaway goal at the two-minute mark in the third quarter to give the Tigers a 4-3 lead.
“The game plan today was to keep it close,” James States said. “We feel like the kids can pull it out and our motto is win the fourth quarter.”
The Tigers stuck to their goal in the fourth quarter when Kris States got the ball past Durango goalie Tyler Gordon at the eight-minute mark to put the Tigers up 5-3. Keith Rockwood added another goal a few minutes later to seal the Tigers’ 6-4 win.
“It’s good to be able to close these games out,” Tigers midfielder Casey Walker said. “We know we can play all four quarters.”
The win over Durango is another building block in Grand Junction’s first season as a program. The Tigers have taken to States’ approach on the field, and have jumped out to the 3-1 record.
“The big thing for these guys is discipline,” States said. “We don’t want to be the ones in the box, we want to try to force our opponents out of their game.”
Today, Grand Junction has its biggest challenge of the season, taking on one of the best teams in the Mountain League, Steamboat Springs. States said he’s excited for the challenge the Sailors present.
“They are the best team in the (Western Slope), and have been for quite some time,” James States said. “We’ll see if we are ready to compete at that level.”