Win two in opening weekend
Lacrosse has come to the Gunnison Valley with 85 kids ages 7 to 14 signed up to be part of a lacrosse program that includes both Crested Butte and Gunnison. The West Elk Warriors started practice just over a month ago and had their first round of games last weekend in Montrose. None of the kids had played in a game before, so it was a fun learning experience for everyone.
The games started with the younger group (U-10/11) taking on Montrose. Montrose had an impressive size advantage and jumped out to an early lead but the Warriors defense, led by Jack Lambert and Hannah Reily, held tough and was backed by fine goal keeping by Connor Zumach. This allowed the Warriors offense to begin to find their groove. Brooks Hudson and Logan Briener began to control the ball in the offensive end and Kody Bodine became a goal-scoring machine as the Warriors took the lead in the second half. Aidan Haun began to win the majority of his face-offs and our kids held on to win the first-ever lacrosse game played by a Gunnison/Crested Butte squad.
Next up were the U13/15 kids, who were fired up to take on the Montrose squad after seeing their younger counterparts with a win under their belts. Things did not begin how they wanted, and they too fell behind in the first period, yet what they lacked in experience they made up for in heart and confidence.
The defense proved to be the difference as our D-squad, led by Adam Collins, Tamus Fee and Cesar Sanchez, stepped up and didn’t allow a single goal in the second half. This allowed the Warriors offense to create some goal-scoring chances. Sam Stepanek was a ground-ball vacuum and showed why winning the ground balls might be the most important part of the game. Luke Collins, Shaughn Rourke, Wiley Bodine and Liam Riley put together some great offensive plays and the Warriors tied it up by the end of regulation.
Time was short with a bunch of games left to play, so the coaches decided to play one five-minute sudden-death period. Shaughn Rourke had a great scoring opportunity, but found the net and the defenses tightened up as nobody put the ball in the goal, ending the game in a 5-5 tie.
The next set of games was against Telluride, which has had a lacrosse program for a few years. The U-10/11 team was showing some fatigue from their first game and was out-played by the Telluride team. Charles Young scored the lone Warrior goal, but the young ones held their heads high and smiled at the opportunity to play an awesome game on a beautiful day.
The game of the day came as the U-13/15 team took the field immediately after their first game to take on the seasoned Telluride team. The Telluride team had not played yet and their legs proved the better in the first quarter, as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead. The Warriors did anything but hang their heads and slowly scraped their way back into the game.
As was the case in the first game, the defense proved critical to staying in the game. Adam Collins and Cesar Sanchez shined in their defensive roles and Sam Stepanek continued to win all the ground balls in sight. Kody Bodine, despite being just 10 years old, stepped up to play goalie for the big kids. Intimidation is not in Kody’s vocabulary; he shut the Telluride team down and often came out of the goal to put some licks on offenders getting too close to his zone. Shaughn Rourke was a powerhouse, scoring three goals in the game, making him the first Warrior with a hat trick.
As the game wound down the Warriors found themselves one goal down with a minute to play. The defense cleared the ball and the offense got the ball to Luke Collins. Luke found some free space in the defense and scored a goal shortly before regulation time ran out, forcing the game into overtime.
Sudden-death overtime ensued and the Warriors were determined to not lose their momentum. The midfielders won the faceoff and worked the ball into the offensive end. Wiley Bodine took a shot on goal that was saved, but the ball was not secured by the goalie and Rourke slapped at the ball, which was mishandled by the goalie, who knocked it into the goal for the first U-13/15 Warriors win.