Taking a big step: Tigers’ lacrosse team meets season goals despite playoff loss
The Grand Junction High School girls lacrosse team got the matchup it wanted, but not the result.
Douglas County scored 10 second-half goals to defeat the Tigers 17-14 in the first round of the girls lacrosse state playoffs Wednesday at Walker Field.
The teams played nearly two weeks ago in Castle Rock, with the Huskies winning 13-12.
“We are so evenly matched,” Douglas County assistant coach Brian Ackerman said. “After playing them the first time and squeaking out a win by one, our worst nightmare was to come back here and have to play them again. We knew it would be another nail-biter and it was all of that.”
Douglas County’s head coach, Nicole Robbins, had a baby earlier this week and didn’t make the trip.
The Tigers (14-2) led most of the game, but struggled to get any momentum going.
It wasn’t so much Douglas County’s defense as it was penalties.
Grand Junction was whistled for 29 fouls and received two yellow cards in the contest. The yellow cards were for dangerous checks, but the Huskies scored only one goal with the two-player advantage.
“I’m not going to say they were bad calls, it’s just different,” Grand Junction coach Kathaleen Recker said. “It’s different refereeing than we’re used to. Maybe things that aren’t called are getting called. It’s that experience of playing on the Front Range.”
The Tigers played two games on the Front Range this season, defeating Palmer 15-7 and losing to Douglas County, the only team to beat Grand Junction this season.
“We definitely saw some things we were doing wrong over there that don’t get called over here,” Recker said. “One was (not giving players enough) shooting space. I thought we cleaned that up today. We didn’t have too much of that. I don’t even know what they were calling, I’ve got to be honest.”
Douglas County (10-6) had 14 penalties and one yellow card.
“It depends on how hyped up the girls are,” Ackerman said. “State playoff game, the first round, everybody wants to win and the expectations are high. The control on the stick can get a little loose. All in all, I thought it was fairly clean game.”
The playoff atmosphere might have gotten to the Tigers early.
“I do think my girls were a little panicked,” Recker said. “We taught them how to play defense correctly and I think they were panicked, making some checks they shouldn’t have been making.”
Douglas County didn’t take the lead until 14:37 remained in the game. One minute later, the Huskies scored again for a 12-10 lead.
Grand Junction got one goal back on a penalty shot, but the Huskies scored five of the next six goals to take a 17-12 lead with 4:45 left.
“We were keeping up with them, but the second half they controlled it for several minutes,” Recker said. “Holly Meer (the Tigers’ goalie) had an amazing game. The important thing was getting possession of the ball, but the second half, give credit to Douglas County, they really controlled it.”
Emma LeFebre led Grand Junction with three goals. Kacie Jay had two goals and four assists. Brittany Wieseler and Maddie Spor each had two goals.
Five players scored two goals apiece for the Huskies.
Meer made 25 saves. Douglas County keeper Brie Walker had six saves.
“It’s not the best we ever played, but it was the hardest we ever played,” Recker said. “They gave it everything they had for sure.
“We set our goal to make it to state and we made it. We had an amazing season. We would’ve liked to gone farther, but we left it all on the field. I’m nothing but proud.”