Showdown in the Snowdown

Fort Lewis travelled through near blizzard conditions to play the closest opponent on their schedule, and had one of the longest days in Skyhawk history.  Departing Durango at 7 in the morning for Alamosa, it took us four and a half hours to make a trip that usually only takes three hours, to play our Division II NCAA neighbors the Adams State Grizzlies.  The Grizzlies are in only their second season, as they and Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction joined the NCAA ranks together last year.  This was a great test for our young Skyhawk squad.  Despite the weather, the Lax Men held their own and played with great composure and class.  It was a long day not returning until 8pm to Durango but spirits were high after the 15-7 loss.  Today, we definitely learned the value of varsity training and facilities (including field time).  Luckily, we have two weeks to prepare for the official start of our MCLA season. 

For complete game stats, go to http://mcla.us

With snow pouring down on the start of the game, Fort Lax came out firing, scoring the first goal of the game.  A few defensive miscues, and some short offensive possessions allowed Adams St. to finish the first quarter leading 4-2.  The Skyhawks had a significant early lead in shots taken and possession time, but couldn’t find the net on many of their early possessions.

In the second quarter we used faceoff domination by the three-headed-monster of Senior Josh Deguzman, and freshmen Bradey Hall and Grant Arthurs, to make the contest close for much of the quarter.  Unfortunately, frozen sticks and physical play contributed to too many Fort Lewis turnovers and at the half we found ourselves behind 8-5.  There were a lot of great looks created by strong individual efforts by midfield and attack.  Everyone on the bench was playing and making solid contributions, probably so they would stay warm. 

Unfortunately for us, we came out cold to start the second half.  The defensive battle of the third quarter was led by great efforts by all of our longsticks to create turnovers.  Some excellent team defense and aggressive slides led to multiple Adams St. turnovers.  The clearing game was not as solid, and the run and gun efforts of the second quarter were stalled by some great saves by Adams State goalie Ronnie Fernando.  It wasn’t until about 3 minutes left in the quarter that the Grizzlies broke the seal.  Two sloppy mistakes in transition cost the Fort an easier comeback chance as Adams scored twice in the last 1:30 to end the quarter up 11-5. 

We knew it was going to be a rough finish, but a lot of credit for the barrage of shots in the fourth quarter goes to an aggressive dodging offense that looked to make the extra pass.  Once again, Adams St. made a lot of quality saves, and some road weary legs forced the Fort to leave too many chances on the table.  The clearing game was much improved and goalie Cody Viereck helped deflect the depth of the Adams St. offense, but the Grizzlies did end up outshooting us 36-35 in the end.  A final rally by Fort Lewis was thwarted by some outstanding individual efforts made by Adams St. in the clearing game.  Sometimes when you gamble on offense, you lose on defense, but it was nice to see the guys take some chances out there.

In the end, a 15-7 loss in a preseason scrimmage is not the end of the world.  The “Snowpocalypse” that has hit the state this month has already taught us that adversity is just something to be conquered.  We hope the snow melts soon, it will only make reaching the mountain top look that much more impressive.  Thanks to Adams State for playing us and sharing their first rate facilities, staff, and hospitality.  We wish you luck this NCAA season, we look forward to making this an annual rivalry…may be more fun in the sun next time.

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