Unlike Friday’s crisp, entertaining girls lacrosse match between Durango and Grand Junction, Saturday’s affair was a sloppy, grind-it-out affair.
And unlike Friday, Saturday’s game saw the Tigers eke out a win.
Emma LeFebre’s goal with 15:46 to go was the final tally of the game, and it gave Grand Junction a 5-4 win over the Demons on Senior Day at DHS Stadium.
Durango’s lineup was chock full of new starters Saturday as a good chunk of the seniors – including the injured Liz Lozano and Alison Millar, who hobbled off after the opening draw – opened the game on the field.
Fresh faces and the loss of stalwart defender Lozano – who left Friday’s game late with a knee injury and whose status is uncertain for the Demons’ opening playoff game – may have contributed to the atypical disjointed play from DHS (10-2).
Becca Rossi also didn’t play until the second half, with DHS head coach Jenni Darlow hoping she didn’t have to use the banged-up midfielder.
Senior midfielder Mollie Bennett said perhaps the comedown from Friday’s Mountain League title-clinching victory played a role. DHS and Grand Junction both struggled to connect their passes as well as both teams had the day before, and the ball spent much more time on the ground in the middle of scrums as a result.
“I think we were so excited about the win (Friday), and we came out excited – we came out more relaxed – and maybe we came out too relaxed for this game,” said Bennett, daughter of Cherie and Tim Bennett.
The Tigers (10-3) broke what had been a long scoreless period to start the game and took a 2-0 lead with 11:13 left in the opening half behind goals from Morgan Emmons and LeFebre, who scored twice.
DHS got goals soon after from leading scorer Jessie Ransford and Siena Gumbiner to even things at 2. Bennett gave Durango the lead when she got just enough stick on Ransford’s pass to get the ball to trickle over the goal line.
“It got in there, but then it came out, and I don’t think I had full control of the ball,” Bennett said or her goal. “And I came down with it, and it barely rolled in.”
Kacie Jay, Grand Junction’s leading goal scorer, rallied the Tigers back in front with two goals, giving her side a 4-3 halftime lead. Gumbiner’s second-half goal tied the game at 4 before LeFebre put the Tigers up for good.
Durango had several long stretches of possession in the offensive zone in the second half, but, much to Darlow’s dismay, the Demons never quite got into good position to score.
“We talked about wanting to run plays on offense, so they were passing the ball around trying to be able to do that, but no one was looking to score. ... It looked like, if you were watching, that we were trying to run the clock out like we were ahead,” Darlow said.
Darlow, however, did praise the ability of her defense to recover and limit Grand Junction’s chances. Alyssa Spencer also made 16 saves for DHS.
Durango now awaits today’s playoff bracket, likely hoping to avoid an opening-round game in the middle of the week in order for more time to rest its collective aches and pains.
Darlow, however, said she’s fully expecting to be in action in the first round.
“I think (rest) is vital to our success in the playoffs. ... Some time would be amazing, but I think we needed the win to have that,” she said.