Ready or not, here come the playoffs.
The Durango High School girls lacrosse team, seeded 13th, barely will have had time to let the accomplishment of its first Mountain League title set in before taking the field for its first-ever playoff game at 4 p.m. today against No. 20 Ralston Valley at DHS Stadium.
DHS head coach Jenni Darlow said a playoff victory its first time in the 20-team field would be a fitting sendoff for a corps of seniors that helped build this program from scratch four years ago.
Itd be huge because the seniors have put so much into this team, and I think it would be so rewarding for them to leave that kind of legacy, she said.
The Mustangs (8-7) present the first test from the Front Range the Demons have faced all season, and the caliber of competition Ralston Valley regularly faces appears to cause a bunch of high-scoring games. Jenny Adams leads the Mustangs with 51 goals, and Sara McMahon scored 36 times this season.
Ralston Valley has scored 175 times and conceded 196 goals, and Darlow said shes not sure whether those numbers are based more on the style of lacrosse played in the Front Range or 100 percent indicative of the team DHS will see today.
I dont know, she said. I dont have enough experience with Front Range lacrosse to know if the offense is that good or defenses arent super strong.
Durango knows one thing: Its defense is plenty strong.
Behind a new defensive scheme borrowed from Fort Lewis College and the play of goalkeeper and FLC recruit Alyssa Spencer, DHS conceded just 49 times all year, including just 10 last weekend to a solid Grand Junction team, and is fourth in the state in goals-against average.
Offensively, Darlows looking for a pick-me-up from a team that scored 105 times this season, led by Jessie Ransfords 38 and Siena Gumbiners 21.
We found a way to get it done, Darlow said. We scored as many goals as we needed to and not a lot more.
What I told the team (Monday) is that our offense needs to step it up because thats where were lacking, and weve got to be able to match.
In terms of nerves, perhaps not having a lot of time to dwell on the task at hand is a positive. In terms of health, however, DHS couldve used a few extra days.
Defender Liz Lozanos lateral collateral ligament injury suffered last week against Grand Junction appears as though itll keep her out for a second consecutive game, Darlow said. Becca Rossis banged-up knee, which she played with last weekend, likely couldve used more rest as well.
Fortunately for DHS, Ransfords nagging hip injury appears to be doing well, so Durangos leading scorer could be as healthy as shes been in weeks.
Every bit should help as Durango looks to provide a boost to a conference thats had little in the way of postseason success. Nothing cures a plodding reputation like postseason victories.
Itd be huge for our whole league, Darlow said. Not all of our games are the friendliest of affairs, but were all in the same boat.
If we can win, then were proving we belong.