Taking the first: Grand Junction tops Fruita in lacrosse at Walker Field
It goes without saying that Fruita Monument and Grand Junction are rivals.
Wednesday night at Walker Field, the two high schools’ lacrosse teams took that rivalry to another level.
In the first lacrosse game between the two schools, Grand Junction’s Luke Olsen ended the game in the second overtime with a goal that found its way past Fruita goalie Cody Vonfelt for a 9-8 victory.
“I’ve been looking forward to this game, and I knew I had to finish it,” Olsen said. “I got the goal and it’s the best feeling in the world.”
Olsen’s goal was set up by a Fruita Monument (6-2) penalty, which gave the Tigers (5-3) a one-man advantage. Olsen scored the game-winning goal four seconds after the penalty was called.
“It was about being in the right spot at the right time,” Grand Junction coach James States said. “Luke knows what to do with the ball, and he found a way to do it.”
Olsen’s late-game heroics weren’t limited to sudden death, as the junior scored a goal with 15 seconds left in regulation to tie the game at 8-8. Fruita was also a man down when Olsen scored to send the game into overtime.
“Getting those two penalties really hurt us,” Fruita Monument coach Mark Young said. “When we give a team of that caliber the ball with 20 seconds left, that’s not good.”
In front of a packed crowd, the game couldn’t have played out any better. The intensity was tenfold that of any other game either team had played all season, and the action on the field didn’t disappoint. The two teams went back and forth the entire game with Fruita jumping to a 3-2 first-quarter lead.
“This was one of the best games I’ve seen,” States said. “It was head-to-head, and I have to give kudos to the boys for keeping it clean and playing hard.”
In the second quarter, Olsen gave Grand Junction its first lead of the game at 4-3, scoring with nine minutes remaining. The Wildcats responded when Jeff Cunningham tied the game at 4-4 with one minute left in the half.
“We knew this was going to be a tough one,” Young said. “We told our boys that Junction is a lot tougher than their record.”
In the second half, Fruita’s Ethan Grider got hot, scoring two goals in two minutes to put the Wildcats ahead 6-4. After Grand Junction cut into the lead, the Wildcats got a goal from Willie Stevens to take a 7-5 lead into the fourth quarter.
“We knew two goals weren’t going to be enough,” Young said. “(Junction) did a good job, but we had a couple of bad penalties.”
Grider nearly stole the game with one minute left as he beat Grand Junction goalie Kolton Flick to take a 8-7 lead. Undeterred, Olsen responded with his goal.
Olsen ended up scoring the Tigers’ final three goals. Cunningham and Grider led the Wildcats with three goals each.
“It was all about teamwork today,” Olsen said. “When they split teams, everyone was dreaming about this game.”
The Tigers won’t have much time to savor the victory as the two teams play again next Wednesday.