Tigers top Wildcats in lacrosse rivalry

Grand Junction’s Anna Wedekin, right, gets past the defense of Fruita Monument’s Holli Heath, 8, and Clay Campbell, 5, to pitch the ball into the net past goalkeeper Courtney Petek during the first half of the Tigers’ victory Tuesday night over the Wildcats at Walker Field.

During a team photo shoot before the season, a photographer told new Grand Junction girls lacrosse coach Camille Calladine all about the Grand Junction-Fruita Monument rivalry.

“He said how the rivalry’s been in existence more than 30 years,” Calladine said, “it’s a big deal. And I was like, ‘Oh, OK.’ “

Calladine, the Tigers’ first-year coach who was raised in Utah before playing for Colorado Mesa University last spring, found out about the rivalry first-hand on Tuesday during Grand Junction’s 19-8 win over Fruita Monument at Walker Field.

The first hint for Calladine at the rivalry’s intensity was simply the crowd during the season opener and first Southwestern League game for the Tigers.

“Just the way the Fruita crowd was cheering for their team,” Calladine said.

Then came the game in which the Tigers’ Emma Lefebre and Kacie Jay scored five goals.

Fruita’s Kiani Vogt led the Wildcats (1-2, 1-2 SWL) with five goals.

Grand Junction led 14-4 at halftime.

And Calladine wasn’t the only coach who noticed the game’s aggressiveness that marks most Fruita-Grand Junction matchups in any sport.

“At the end of the game,” said Fruita coach Mark Twardowski, “the teams are talking and hugging. It’s a great rivalry.”

Midway through the first half, Lefebre scored an 8-meter shot — her favorite.

“Because when the whistle blows everyone crashes in to block your shot,” Lefebre said, “and you only have a few seconds to shoot.”

But no one was so immersed in this rivalry — from the spectator’s standpoint — as Calladine’s mother, Anna Marie Gordon.

“I just heard people saying, ‘Hit them; knock them down,’” Gordon said. “But that’s just normal. It’s parents.”

Gordon drove from Delta to watch the first game coached by her daughter, who also works part time and attends CMU full time.

“I drove all the way up,” Gordon said, “paid my event fee, paid for coffee and a hot dog.”

And she watched her daughter win the big rivalry.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Calladine said. “I just told my girls to come out and play a smart, clean game.”


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