Darlow’s Demons cash in on the program’s best year

David Bergeland/Durango Herald file photo
Jessie Ransford led the Demons in scoring with 38 goals on 97 shots, and Mountain League co-Coach of the Year Jenni Darlow credited her with carrying the offense early. Ransford was named first team All-Mountain League. Enlarge photo

David Bergeland/Durango Herald file photo Jessie Ransford led the Demons in scoring with 38 goals on 97 shots, and Mountain League co-Coach of the Year Jenni Darlow credited her with carrying the offense early. Ransford was named first team All-Mountain League.

To the victors go the spoils, the saying goes.

So with the program’s first-ever Mountain League title came the largest amount of accolades for the Durango High School girls lacrosse team.

The Demons landed six total players on the All-Mountain League first and second teams, more than any other school, and head coach Jenni Darlow shared Coach of the Year honors with Betsy Frick of Steamboat Springs.

Darlow was quick to play off her award, earned for leading the fourth-year program to its first playoff berth, as based more on the work of the team than herself.

“Pretty exciting. I also think fairly deserving if only because it’s based off what the team did,” she said. “I don’t think I did anything spectacular, but with what the team has done, it makes sense.”

Those results earned the 10-win Demons plenty of individual accolades. Liz Lozano, Jessie Ransford and Alyssa Spencer were first-team picks, while Ruthie Edd, Siena Gumbiner and Alyssa Montoya made the second team.

Spencer was as close to impenetrable in goal as anyone in the Mountain League. Her 3.966 goals-against average topped the league, while her .715 save percentage was second only to fellow first-teamer Molly Kadota of Aspen.

Those numbers also earned her a spot on the Fort Lewis College women’s lacrosse team next season.

“She’s a unique weapon to have, and we were definitely fortunate to have her,” Darlow said. “Anyone who’s seen her play, she stands out.”

Joining her in making Durango one of the league’s top defensive teams was Lozano. Despite battling injuries at times during the season, Lozano anchored a revamped zone defense borrowed from FLC and head coach Kelsey MacDonald.

The Demons allowed 49 goals in 13 games.

“Our girls, especially Liz, executed it really well,” the head coach said.

Ransford led the Demons in scoring with 38 tallies on 97 shots, and Darlow credited her with carrying the offense while the team worked to build a cohesive attack in the early part of the season.

DHS also had to deal with the losses of offensive standouts Alison Millar and Sara Martin, both of whom missed nearly the entire season with injuries.

“At the beginning of the season, we didn’t have it figured out yet, so Jessie was pretty much taking care of it on her own,” Darlow said of her sophomore.

Helping Ransford pick up the slack were FLC-signee Gumbiner and the Demons’ assist leader, Alyssa Montoya.

Gumbiner’s blazing speed helped her weave her way to 21 goals on 56 shots and pick up a team-leading 26 groundballs.

“Not only is she flashy, but she’s a good player. ... We’re going to miss that kind of flashiness, that quickness on the field next year,” Darlow said of Gumbiner.

Montoya, meanwhile, chipped in 14 goals and a team-best seven assists, doing the underrated job of setting up the Demons’ big offensive guns.

“I’m super glad she’s not a senior. ... She has a real knack for getting that ball into the cutting attacker,” Darlow said.

Edd scored four times for DHS, but her biggest contributions came as the lockdown defender in the midfield. She scooped up 18 groundballs and had six interceptions and was a stick-checking maven in the middle.

“Her play is really pretty, and it’s technically really, really good,” Darlow said. “She’s a phenomenal defender in the midfield in that open space, and she has a real knack for getting that check and getting the ball after the check.”

rowens@durangoherald.com