Durango lacrosse: Just win

A three-way tie for the Mountain League lacrosse title likely would fall so far down the tiebreaker list that it would leave folks affiliated with the girls programs at Aspen, Durango and Grand Junction high schools with spinning heads.

But the Demons could keep that scenario from fruition today by doing one simple thing: winning.

In just the fourth year of varsity lacrosse at DHS, the Demons can win the Mountain League title outright with a win today over visiting Grand Junction. It’s a long way from the days of shaky fundamentals and lopsided defeats that typically plague programs in their infancy.

“It’s really exciting. It’s a little nerve-wracking,” DHS head coach Jenni Darlow said at Thursday’s practice. “We kind of knew all year that we had the potential for this. I questioned it when we had the loss to Fruita (Monument), but since then we have (shown) the potential. It’s really exciting.

“They’re nervous. I’m nervous.”

In the Mountain League, several teams have to play weekend doubleheaders, and for conference purposes, Darlow said only the first game of the two counts in the standings.

This leaves Durango at 7-0, counting the Telluride forfeit, in conference heading into today’s game, while the Tigers and Skiers have one loss each. Durango’s only loss came to league foe Fruita Monument, but it came in the second game of a weekend twinbill.

While a league championship is nice, it’s the prize that comes with it that has the Demons salivating: The Mountain League champion gets the league’s only automatic bid to the 20-team state playoff field and a seed of no worse than 13.

Nerves could be a factor with so much at stake for a team unaccustomed to such heights.

Darlow, however, said she’s probably more nervous than any of her players, and senior midfielder Ruthie Edd added the Demons have handled success well thus far.

“It’s something we’ve never done before. ... Everything is new, so we’ll just take what we get,” Edd said.

Should DHS succumb to the Tigers and Aspen be victorious over Battle Mountain and Steamboat Springs, a three-way tie would be in effect, and Darlow said that in her research, she thinks it’ll come down to one of the last tiebreakers – goals allowed in the games between the tied teams.

Unless Durango’s usually reliable defense were to be dented a considerable amount – Darlow thinks 18 times – that, too, would favor the Demons.

And, of course, should Grand Junction win today and Aspen lose once more, the Tigers take the automatic bid.

Winning would cause a lot fewer headaches for the Demons, who appear to have been handling the week of practice leading into the biggest game in the program’s short history quite well.

“We don’t want anyone to think we’ve got it in the bag. I don’t think anyone thinks that; I don’t think that,” Darlow said.

Edd said a league title as a senior would validate the work the four-year players had put in to get the team not only off the ground but also competitive.

“I think it’s rather amazing. ... I’ve really seen the program grow. We had enough for one team the first year, and just slowly, it’s grown,” said Edd, daughter of Don Edd and Esther Belin.

“We had our first winning season last season, and it’s ... been nice to know you’ve helped create this program that I hope will continue on in the future.”

Darlow, meanwhile, hasn’t been sure how to handle the bevy of compliments sent her way from fellow teachers and coaches at DHS, preferring to deflect praise to her players.

Should Durango come out atop the Mountain League heap, however, she’d be willing to at least accept some of the kind words sent her way.

“I’m kind of in awe. ... I think I must’ve gotten really lucky with these girls,” Darlow said.

“I get congratulations all the time, and I don’t know how to react to it. If we win (today) I think I’ll accept it graciously instead of trying to deflect it.”

Durango will host Grand Junction at 4 p.m. today then again at 11 a.m. Saturday at DHS Stadium.

rowens@durangoherald.com