Roaring Fork Lacrosse

Sophie Hodgson, middle, celebrates after scoring an overtime goal to give Roaring Fork the playoff win over Aspen in the second round of the state playoffs on Thursday night. The Rams play today in the state quarterfinal for the first time in program history. 

As late as May 1, Roaring Fork thought there was a strong chance to be playing their second-round matchup at home in Carbondale.

But because the wheels fell off in the last week of the regular season, the team advancing to the quarterfinals of the state championship for the first time in the program’s four-season history was perhaps all the sweeter.

The Rams entered May 2 in the driver’s seat for a league championship, which would’ve clinched a first-round bye and a second-round home game. But losses to Battle Mountain and rival Aspen — both teams that they beat earlier in the season — killed their chances for a league title and dropped their playoff standings. Instead, it manifested a rematch with Aspen on Rams’ turf on Thursday night.

“I just feel so accomplished,” Roaring Fork senior Sophie Hodgson, who scored the decisive overtime goal in an 8-7 victory on Thursday, said. “One, winning the second round of the playoffs and two, defeating Aspen. Since day one, they’ve been our rivals.

“We were just so hungry for this win. This was a team win. We worked as a team throughout the entire game. We fought, we gave everything we had. We just wanted to beat Aspen and we knew we could.”

Roaring Fork trailed for only about four minutes early in the second half of the game, but Aspen gave the Rams a run for their money. After Roaring Fork took a three-goal lead in the first half, the Skiers rallied back to tie it at 4-4 heading into halftime. The Skiers secured a go-ahead goal just over five minutes into the second half.

The Rams then took the next three tallies to go up 7-5 but again Aspen made a late push, tying the game at 7-7 with just under four minutes to play. The score stood until overtime, where Roaring Fork won the opening draw and maintained possession until Hodgson found a seam and ended the game.

“I saw my opening and I was like, ‘I’ve got to go. It’s now or never,’” Hodgson said. “I just ripped a hard shot and it went in.”

Adding to the joy, specifically for Hodgson, was the opponent. After beating the Skiers in overtime in Carbondale on April 10, the Rams’ regular-season finale loss at Aspen on May 6 put the final nail in the coffin of a league championship dream. Not only that, but along the way Aspen jumped to No. 7 in the state standings while Roaring Fork slunk to 10th.

The Rams got their home game but had to prove their worth in the first round with a 16-7 win over No. 23 Grand Junction. After the redemptive win over Aspen just five days after their last loss to the Skiers, the Rams are headed somewhere they never have been before. They are now two wins away from a state championship berth.

Roaring Fork lost in the first round in its inaugural season in 2019 and in its second season in 2021 (the season was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19). Last year, the Rams fell in the second round to Thompson Valley, the eventual state runner-up.

“This is a historic win for this program,” Roaring Fork head coach Chelsea Robson said. “This is big for them. … They knew that this was on the line. They were intense and they wanted it.”

The Rams have a huge obstacle in their way today in Longmont in facing No. 2 Mead. The Mavericks went 13-2 in the regular season with a 5-0 record in the 4A North League. They beat their second-round opponent, No. 15 Fruita Monument, 19-1. Roaring Fork beat Fruita Monument 9-6 on April 20.

“We’re going to the top,” Hodgson said. “We wanted this win. We want to put Roaring Fork on the map. We want to get as far as we can in states. It’d be a miracle to win state playoffs for my senior year, it’d just be the cherry on top. I just want to go as far as we can and just know this team’s coming.”