Fraser U9 lacrosse team overcomes major odds to take Aspen Shootout

Cassidi Peterson
For Sky-Hi News

The U9 Fraser Valley Mountaineers Lacrosse team won the 2022 Aspen Shootout tournament last weekend in intense play despite low player turnout.

Teams came from all over Colorado, as well as southern Wyoming. The U9 squad was almost unable to compete due to a lack of players. Seven players were needed to take the field, and they were a team of 10.

Three team members had other commitments, and at the last minute, the fourth player came down with the stomach flu. Fortunately, Coach John Vella recruited two first-grade players and one second-grade player late Thursday night to join the 3rd-grade team in El Jebel, Colorado, for four qualifying games and one championship battle.

The weekend unfolded like a blockbuster comeback story. With six original team members and three fill-ins, the team started strong in their first game against Grand Valley with a 5-1 lead at halftime. Then, the team got comfortable, sat back, and almost lost the game with a final 5-4 score. Coach Vella gave them a no-parents-allowed pep talk and reenergized the team to find their fighting spirit.

Their second game was a decisive win against the Aspen Red team on Saturday with an 11-2 final score. Sunday morning, they were confident but found a worthy challenger and struggled to take the lead against the Cheyenne Mountain Lacrosse team. With heavy hearts, they lost 8-6. With one game left, the only option was to win if they wanted to land the second seed in the finals. They also had to ensure the other team scored minimal goals, as the goals scored were the tie-breaking factor against the Telluride team that was also fighting for a No. 2 seed.

The kids poured their hearts out and pulled out a 10-0 win against Aspen Black. They made the finals. But, the finals started immediately after their final game finished. Coach Vella convinced the referee to provide them 5-minute grace period to allow for a goalie outfit change. They were back at it, battling against Cheyenne Mountain Lacrosse — the same team they just lost to hours before. The kids dug deep and controlled the match as an impressive bout of Lacrosse ensued. They came out victorious with a 10-5 win and a first-place finish in the Aspen Shootout.

The players put their hearts and souls into winning the championship. It was an impressive display of teamwork and effort.

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