Showing she belongs
GJ's Elder, normally the JV goalie, plays well in loss
With each successive save Thursday night, little by little, freshman goalie Brandi Elder gained confidence.
After four straight saves, you could hardly tell it was her first time playing with the varsity team.
Elder anchored the defense for the Grand Junction girls lacrosse team, one that looked much better in the second half than it did in the first, as the Tigers fell to Battle Mountain 12-7 in a Colorado Mountain League game at Stocker Stadium.
Coach Amanda Simon called on Elder, who is the junior varsity team’s goalie, at halftime with the Tigers trailing 9-3. The absence of regular backup goalie Kaitlin Lynch and a sluggish defensive performance in the first half opened the door for Elder.
“We did change up our goalie, and (Brandi) did an amazing job in the second half,” Simon said. “Defensively, we communicated and slid and kept our feet moving and kept our heads on a swivel so we’d be able to make the stops.”
Grand Junction (3-4, 2-1 CML) traded early goals with Battle Mountain (4-2, 3-1 CML) as Alex Nicoletti and Hannah Price scored goals in the opening minutes. However, with the score tied 2-2 less than five minutes into the game, the Huskies went on a 7-0 run before Price scored shortly before halftime.
After the break, Elder turned the tide. Driven by the support of her teammates, Elder stonewalled four straight shots from Battle Mountain and stopped seven of the first nine shots she faced as Grand Junction closed the deficit to 10-6.
“The first thing I thought was, ‘Whoa, wait a minute, wait a minute. I’m JV. Why am I playing varsity tonight?’ ” Elder said. “But when I got in there, I feel like it was the support of my team that helped me. After I blocked that first one, my teammates were saying, ‘You got this, you got this.’ So yeah, I was good after that.”
Elder finished with seven saves, and although one half is a small sample size, Elder currently leads the CML in save percentage and goals-against average.
Makenna Tuttle keyed the offense early in the second half with back-to-back goals for Grand Junction. Tuttle led the Tigers with three goals, Price scored two and Kristina Sewell chipped in with two assists.
The Tigers seemed to struggle with offensive cohesion, and the absence of leading scorer Halle Harrison hurt Grand Junction. Simon said early turnovers cost the Tigers, adding communication and team chemistry are keys to improving.
“I think it was a lot of communication — a lack of communication on our end,” Simon said. “Getting the turnovers, getting the crappy passes and just not working together as a team in terms of controlling the ball on our end was a big issue. It’s something we’ve been working on in practice and will continue to work on and see where we go from there.”