LOVELAND — The start was not ideal for the Class 4A No. 2 ranked Erie Tigers in Loveland, but nine goals in the second half propelled them to a 10-5 win over the Thompson Valley Eagles on Thursday.
The win halted a three-game win streak for the 4A No. 3 Eagles and sees Erie improve to 5-1 with the win.
"Obviously Thompson Valley has some good players out there," Erie's Ty Gardner said. "It felt good to get out there, face adversity and come away with the win."
While Erie has won easily in its first four victories of the season, the Tigers have only played in one game decided by fewer than seven goals, a game they lost to Brighton, Utah, by a score of 7-5 on March 25. With little experience playing in tight games this season, the Tigers were caught in a low-scoring game early as they struggled to find much offense in the first half with one goal.
The struggles came from the defense of Thompson Valley, but also loose play with the ball that resulted in turnovers, missed passes and shots sailing wide of the net. A couple of miscues on defense allowed Thompson Valley to get two goals on the other end to take a 2-1 lead into the halftime break.
A long discussion later, Erie played like a brand new team in the second half. They were able to clean up the loose play with the ball and started getting looks in tight at the net. Taylor Kamigaki tied the game at 2-2 and Christian Adams made a strong move in close to score the goal that put Erie in front.
The offense continued to attack with a variety of players and continued to add to the lead, which slowly grew to 7-4 right before the end of the third quarter.
"We just stayed composed and stuck with what we know," Erie's Cam Cramer said. "In the first half, we had something like eight shots on cage, but we weren't sticking them. In the second half, we stayed composed and kept sticking with it."
Cramer, who scored a goal in the second half, was one of eight players to score for the Tigers in the win.
As the offense found new life, the defense stayed the course in getting in the passing lanes and forcing Thompson Valley to work from distance as much as possible. The physical play also increased with big hits and plays on sticks that resulted in turnovers and missed opportunities against the Tigers.
With the goals and physical play, Erie fed off the energy in the second half to pull away for their fourth road win of the season.
"This team is looking good for the future," Gardner said. "The biggest thing for us is staying close. As long as we stay brothers and play with confidence, it's going to take us to great places."
Thursday also showed to be a good test for a team riding some early success and high expectations in handling playing like a top-ranked team in the state. Now with conference play beginning next week, they will look to elevate their game even more to try and reach their full potential.
"We're feeling good," Cramer said. "We're still learning how to play with each other but we're definitely meshing."
Erie 10, Thompson Valley 5
At Ray Patterson StadiumErie (5-1) 0 1 6 3 — 10
Goals — Erie: Christian Adams 2, Stone Keener 1, Cam Cramer 1, Jackson Keener 1, Adam Bristow 1, Taylor Kamigaki 1, Corby Tecu 1, Zach Tribbett 1; Thompson Valley: Jared McFerran 2, Chris Djoumaliev 2, Zac Dewey 1.
Assists — Erie: Jackson Keener 4, Adam Bristow 1; Thompson Valley: Micah Payton 2, Jaydon Adfield 1.
Goalies (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Erie: Tim Beach 48-5-11; Thompson Valley: Brooks Masters 48-10-10.