Close but not quite for Tigers lacrosse in Vail
April 28, 2017
EDWARDS — And that's a school record.
Yes, Vail Mountain School lacrosse has a lot more on the to-do list this spring, but the Gore Rangers made it 10-1 with a 9-7 grudge-match win against Summit County on Thursday, exceeding last year's win total of nine.
"It's really special for this program," VMS coach Bobby Ecker said. "We have a lot of seniors who have been here since the beginning. It's a special year for us."
And that is dawning on the Gore Rangers as they hit the home stretch and the playoffs.
"It's pretty awesome," senior Todger Davis said. "It's going to be pretty hard to say goodbye to this after the season is over. We're going to take these next four games and the playoffs and love every moment."
Summit is now 7-6 overall and 4-4 in the Western league with two must-win games remaining against Glenwood Springs on May 2 and Senior Night against Battle Mountain on May 4.
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No spring break blues
VMS (10-1 overall, 7-0 in the Western league) hadn't played a game in 16 days because of spring break. Returning to action can be a scary prospect — but apparently not for the Gore Rangers.
"The team was really focused coming back," VMS senior Peter Tice said. "We had one goal coming back: win this game. Everyone regrouped. We played wall ball during the break. We focused up and we got the W."
The Summit boys, however, had sacrificed most of spring break to keep playing and practicing. That dedication paid off in the past few weeks, when the team jumped to No. 12 in the state 4A lacrosse rankings thanks to wins against Western league powerhouses Steamboat Springs and Aspen. The Tigers needed one more against the Gore Rangers to all but secure a postseason bid, but Thursday's loss now leaves them at the mercy of other teams and the ratings percentage index (aka the forumla CHSAA uses to determine who goes to the playoffs).
VMS got the lead with two goals from Kyle Negomir during the first quarter and never relinquished the lead, though Summit never went away. Griffin O'Connell started his hat trick during the second. Tyler Hancock had his usual two and Luke Verratti is still good at lacrosse with two more.
Behind the scenes, Dylan Hardenbergh, playing with an injury, moved back to defense and did a good job there. Goalie Nick Charles, as always, was clutch when Summit threatened.
Looking ahead (or not)
Since VMS has a third of its regular season after spring break, no misstep on Thursday was a nice sign. The Gore Rangers lead the Western league by one game over Steamboat Springs.
In a related development, VMS is at Eagle Valley today, hosts Littleton on May 2 and then has back-to-back games against Steamboat to finish the regular season. Those two against the Sailors will likely decide the Western title — and could even determine Summit's postseason future.
VMS was No. 7 before Thursday's game and is pretty much a lock for the postseason, regardless of what happens during the final four games of the regular season. Summit, on the other hand, was on the bubble at No. 12 entering the Vail game. The top 16 teams in 4A advance to the first round of postseason play, which means the boys are now almost completely reliant on the RPI rankings at CHSAA.org.
But two more wins next week will go a long way. If the Tigers can finish strong against Glenwood and Battle Mountain for a 6-4 league record, expect to see them in the first round of the state championship — that is, if the algorithm pans out as expected.
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