Smooth start: Heil’s presence helps Wildcats get season off on right foot
The Fruita Monument High School girls lacrosse team is going to find its transition from one united Grand Valley team is going to be a lot easier because of Katie Heil.
Wednesday at Canyon View Park in the first Fruita Monument girls lacrosse game, the midfielder scored four goals in the Wildcats’ 6-2 win over Battle Mountain.
“I thought it went really well,” Heil said. “I wasn’t feeling very good this morning, but I think that was just nerves.”
Heil’s combination of speed and ball-handling skills gave the Huskies trouble early in the game. Heil raced down the middle of the field, and scored three first-half goals past Battle Mountain’s Ali Feeney.
“We came out and played well as a team,” Heil said. “I was pretty surprised. We have a lot of girls who haven’t played, so I think we did well.” Heil’s goals, in addition to goals from Allison Fox and Melissa Myers, help put the Wildcats (1-0) up 5-1 after the first half. Heil added the sixth goal quickly in the second half for the 6-1 lead.
This is Heil’s third year playing lacrosse. She was selected all-conference honorable mention last season, and Heil’s experience is going to be key for the Wildcats’ success.
“I think it helps having girls who have played before,” Heil said. “When I first started, no one had experience.”
In addition to Heil’s experience offensively, Fruita Monument has the benefit of a veteran goalie. Stephanie Long started in goalie for the Grand Valley team last season, and put together a strong performance on Wednesday, finishing with 15 saves.
“Goalie is the most important position on the field, and she did a great job there,” Fruita Monument coach Lenny Lang said. “We appreciate her back there.”
Lang helped start the Grand Valley lacrosse program five years ago and after Wednesday’s win, he said he knew the Wildcats’ fundamentals weren’t up to speed yet so Fruita relied on effort for the victory.
“I told the girls that hustle won them the game today,” Lang said. “We’ve been stressing teamwork and trying to work the ball around, and I thought overall it was good.”
Although the Wildcats have seasoned leadership in important places, there’s no hiding the fact more than half the team was playing its first game. In an attempt to get the players live game action, Lang said the coaches spent a majority of the second half rotating as many players as they could.
“A large part of this game was getting the experience,” Lang said. “Some of these girls have never seen a lacrosse game, so with a young team like this we have to try to get them up to speed as quick as we can.”
Fruita plays next against Summit on March 27.
The Central High School tennis team kicked off its season with a 6-1 win over Aspen.
The Warriors got wins from each of their singles players, including No. 2 singles Jamie Johnson, who earned a 6-4, 7-6 win over Mimi Rodgers.
“We are really excited about how we played at every position,” Central coach Kathy Elliott said. “They all worked really hard.”
The Warriors also got a win from No. 2 doubles team Ashley Wells and Nikki Keeling, who defeated Flynn Holman and Lindsey Tschoppat 6-1, 7-5.