West Elk Warriors lacrosse closes season on a high note

U15 team takes title

by Andrew Hadley

The West Elk Warrior U13 and U15 lacrosse teams stormed into Albuquerque this past weekend for the Albuquerque Lacrosse Tournament. The fields were stacked with teams from four states: New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and Colorado. The local teams had played against only the Durango team before, so there was a bit of trepidation about what the competition level would be.

The Crested Butte and Gunnison team pulls from a small local population, while the other teams were from large metropolitan areas. As the local squad walked onto the field they got their first glimpse of the other teams. It was immediately obvious that the West Elk team was the smallest in both size and numbers. Being so far away it was tough to get the numbers of players to make the trip down to New Mexico. Lacrosse is played with 10 players at a time, and it is good to have at least six other players to substitute when the players get tired. Our squads showed up with only two subs. Having three games per day guaranteed there would be a ton of running and some tough battles on the field.

The anxiety the teams felt about playing the bigger teams with diminished numbers was soon erased as the two local teams tore through their first three games without allowing an opponent to score a goal.

The first real test of the tournament came when the U15 team got ready to face a team from Permian, Texas. These corn-fed boys from Texas were big. They were a new team and looked to have size and speed but not a lot of experience. The Warriors have been playing for only two years but what they have learned about the sport and their skill level was formidable.

The game stayed tight and could have gone either way as the final minutes approached. The score was 3-2 with the West Elk boys leading. The Texas team was putting a good bit of pressure on Kody Bodine, who was playing in his fifth game of the day. The heat became too much for Kody and Shaughn Rourke relieved him in goal. Shaughn came up huge with a few key saves as Permian attacked with relentless force. With just a one-goal advantage the West Elk team dug deep and were able to get a fast break goal to go up by two and seal the win.

The U13 team was also tearing through their competition with big wins against Santa Fe, Albuquerque, Midland, Texas and Los Alamos. The defense for this talented team, led by Jackson Warner, Adam Collins and Harrison Bosler, allowed only a few goals over the six games they played. Logan Breiner and Ben Cummins stepped into goal for the first time in their lives and came up huge, posting numerous shutouts. Owen Whiting and Jack Lambert were keeping the pressure on with big shots and the goal of the weekend came when Owen Whiting fed Kai Miller, who scored his first goal of the season. The team went crazy as they sealed a trip to the tournament final against a strong team from Arizona.

The two teams entered the final with undefeated records and it proved to be a scrappy fight. Brendan Roy and Eric Wasinger fought hard for every loose ball and Logan Breiner added some much-needed offense, but in the end the Warriors came up short as they ran out of gas against the bigger team. Some of the players, including Matthew Trujillo, Dagan Schwartz and Adam Collins, had finished the weekend playing a total of 11 games and it was obvious their legs were tired.

Tired or not, this trio of U13 players had to step up for one last game as they had been playing up with the U15s all weekend and they weren’t about to stop now because they were needed in the final showdown for the chance at a championship in the older division. The final was between West Elk and an all-star team from central Arizona. The Arizona team had also been tearing through their competition and had numbers and size on the WESA team.

The game started slow with each team feeling the other out and the defense stepping up. The West Elk defense was rock solid all weekend with Murphy Smith, Connor Chin and Adam Collins providing tremendous support for Kody Bodine in goal. The Arizona team started to turn it on and went up by two goals. With time running out in the first half the Warriors were in danger of being shut out in a half for the first time, when Ted Trujillo cranked up a side-armed rocket to put the Warriors on the board.

The score was 3-1 going into the second half when the defense started to get fired up. They promised they would do their best to keep the ball out of our goal, but we needed our offense to step up and score some goals. Shaughn Rourke, who had played every position on the field throughout the weekend, gave a strong pep talk during a time out and the team came out with fire in their eyes and it was clear they were intent on giving everything they had to win the game. Dagan Schwartz, Luke Bacailli and Matthew Trujillo stormed onto the field knowing they had to win balls and get it back to our attack. Joseph Cummins stepped up and took on his defender one-on-one and beat him to the goal, narrowing the deficit to one.

The heat was on and the Warriors were relentless in their attack on the goal. Graham Barrett, who had played incredible lacrosse all weekend, was next to score, bringing the score to a tie and the fans to their feet. Luke Collins always plays with intensity, and he is a player who can take over a game with his incredible effort. Luke saw the other team on their heels and turned it up a notch to score the go-ahead goal.

The game teetered back and forth with the Arizona team knowing that they were being out-hustled by our team. The Arizona team started to make some untimely penalties as they tried to keep up with the speedy Warriors. With the game coming to a close and the local boys two men down, the Warrior defense again came up huge and a fast break pass from Luke Collins found Wiley Bodine alone in the middle of the field breaking for the goal. Wiley put the ball in the back of the net and the crowd went wild as the local Crested Butte and Gunnison team had won the title.

Kody Bodine was marauded in goal by the ecstatic team as the look in their eyes said it all. We came, we played hard and we are the champions. Yeah, you right!

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