West Elk Warriors lacrosse team opens season on fire in Junction

“This ‘never say die’ attitude is what I will remember most from the weekend” 

by Doug Hudson

Organized by Rain Bodine and led by coaches Andrew Hadley, Tom Keating and Matt Whiting, the West Elk Warriors lacrosse teams got their second season underway with a bang last weekend at the Grand Valley Quik Stix Tournament in Grand Junction. In their divisions, the U9 and U12 teams earned third place while the U13 team finished second and the U15 squad pulled away in first.

Teams are classified according to age and experience and although they were bracketed in the less experienced division, the West Elk Warriors faced long-established programs like Aspen, Vail, Telluride and Durango over two days and four games per squad. Showing their true grit and deep passion for the sport, the Warriors never stopped hustling.

The future of the West Elk Warriors Lacrosse program, the fledgling U9s, went three wins and one loss for the tournament. Led by Oliver Downey and Annie Collins in goal, the U9s fought their hearts out and have to be commended for never giving up and playing with enormous effort. Grady Buckhanan was the tip of the Warrior’s sword with goal after goal after goal all weekend. These little Warriors showed everyone how bright lacrosse’s future is in the Gunnison Valley.

The U13 team finished the weekend in second place with two wins, one tie and one loss to first place Aspen Myatt in the final game of the tournament. The defensive gatekeeping that Harrison Bosler, Adam Collins and Jackson Warner brought to the field was effective, awe-inspiring and even intimidating from the sidelines. No one wants to mess with those kids with their long sticks in hand. They were backed up by amazing goalkeeping by Kody Bodine and Nico Marchitelli. Jack Lambert, Brooks Hudson and Owen Whiting were relentless on offense peppering the opposing defenders with shots on the cage all weekend, and Logan Breiner made every coach beam with pride when he opened the weekend by switching the stick to his left hand, shooting and scoring.

The U15 squad brought a true team effort to the fields, winning their division in a tiebreak policy against home team Grand Valley Green based on least number of goals allowed. Over the tournament the U15 Warriors played better defense, allowed less goals than Grand Valley and took the title. With a solid stock of rookie players, the second year U15s led the way with tremendous performances. There was standout hustle from Luke Collins, Graham Barrett, Wiley Bodine, Shaughn Rourke and Scerek Romero, but the biggest U15 tournament shout-outs go to Kody Bodine and Nico Marchitelli in goal, stepping it up in age and athleticism and slamming the door for their opponents’ best efforts on goal.

The big story last weekend was the Herculean efforts made by the U12 team. These Warriors headed in to the weekend with two games scheduled on Saturday and they were ready to rumble. With their morning game tied and their afternoon game won, the tournament asked them to play another game back-to-back Saturday afternoon. Even though they were gassed, they reminded each other of who they are and the Valley they represent.

Sam Dukeman might as well have had a rifle on the field his shots on goal were so accurate and powerful. Rocky Marchitelli was out for a rip, playing hockey on the lacrosse field all weekend, with shot after shot and goal after goal. Brendan Hartigan played two soccer games Saturday morning, hauled down to GJ to play lacrosse all afternoon and wound up with at least three goals on Saturday (good job, dad!). Tor Hudson and Jack Perkins stood strong in defense with their long sticks and were backed up by cunning goalkeeping from Connor Zumach.

“Being down by two goals, they stepped up and dug deep to find out what they were really made of,” said coach and spiritual Baggataway Andrew Hadley of the U12 effort late Saturday afternoon.

“They had nothing left in their legs, but they had the mindset to pull some energy from deep down inside and pull off the win with time elapsing. This ‘never say die’ attitude is what I will remember most from the weekend. This game brought a huge sense of pride to me for what these warriors can accomplish. There was no ‘me’ in this game and the whole team fought for this win. This is the lasting image I will have from the weekend and I will remember it for a long time to come.”

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