Steamboat boys lacrosse cruises to 3rd consecutive conference title |

Steamboat boys lacrosse cruises to 3rd consecutive conference title

Chris Freud/Vail Daily

Steamboat Springs' Grant McCannon, center, breaks away from Battle Mountain players Friday at Battle Mountain High School in Edwards. The Sailors won, 9-2, to wrap up their third consecutive conference championship.

— The Steamboat Springs and Battle Mountain boys lacrosse teams duked it out in the snow Friday afternoon for the Mountain Conference crown.

"I felt like I was walking on high heels," joked Sailors junior John Wharton. "It turned out being kind of fun sliding around."

It was fun for the Sailors, who skated to a 9-2 victory against the Huskies, clinching their third consecutive conference championship and a berth in the state playoffs.

Trio of titles

Steamboat dictated the game from the start with a patient offense and a rock-solid defense. The Sailors scored twice in each of the first two periods and blew the game open with five in the third.

"For 80-85 percent of the game, we played with them" Huskies coach Kevin O'Brien said. "They're a hell of a lacrosse team. When you have a couple lapses, they will make you pay. That's what good teams do. We're not far off, though. I'm proud of the boys."

Wharton ended up with the hat trick. Lance Ostrom and Kai Rogers scored twice. Grant McCannon and Jackson Coe also found the back of the net.

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Battle Mountain did have sustained possessions on the Sailors end but rarely any opportunities up close. The Sailors shut down any passes in front of the net and made the Huskies pay the price physically when they tried to weave in there.

Battle Mountain's Josh Rosenbach scored twice for the Huskies in the fourth quarter.

"It's a lot of fun," Wharton said. "I'm a junior, and that's three years in a row. I feel like there's an obligation to win the conference for the school, but this year it was more difficult because of better competition like Battle Mountain."

Postseason questions

Steamboat's win left two questions in its wake. Can the Sailors, now a playoff regular, get that elusive postseason win? And will Battle Mountain get a playoff spot with a win today against Grand Junction?

As for the first query, Steamboat built its schedule around that goal. The Sailors, who finished the season 9-6, easily rolled through their conference opponents and spent their six nonconference tilts playing anyone and everyone on the Front Range.

"We'll find out at the seeding meeting on Tuesday," Sailors coach Bob Heister said. "I think we can be competitive in the playoffs."

The Sailors lost to Grandview, 13-12; Air Academy, 10-9; Valor Christian, 6-5; and Littleton, 6-4, so the law averages dictates that if Steamboat does get a decent draw, this might be the year.

As for Battle Mountain, which suffered its second conference loss of the season, there is the consolation that two teams made it to the postseason last year from the Mountain Conference. Although the fact that the league sent two teams last year is no guarantee of the same this spring, Battle Mountain (12-2) can wrap up second place in the standings with a win today against Grand Junction.

"I want to focus on Grand Junction before answering questions about" the postseason, O'Brien said. "After the game, we'll see what happens. It's about finishing strong. Grand Junction isn't going to roll over for us. They're a good team."

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