Steamboat Springs Steamboat Springs freshman Shelly Dunlop and her teammates realized they were in for a tough battle Monday in Littleton even before the game officially started.
Dunlop said she got nervous just watching the Arapahoe Warriors lacrosse team warm up.
"They didn't drop any balls as they ran through their drills," Dunlop said. "We were already a little intimidated since they were a 5A school, and watching them warm up didn't help."
Arapahoe, a school of more than 2,000 students, came out strong, netting four goals in the first five minutes and taking a 12-2 first-half lead. The Sailors played a tighter game in the second half but lost the game 17-5.
"It was hard," Dunlop said. "You just wanted to go over to the sidelines and put your head down and cry. But I tried to look at it as a learning experience and make the best of it."
Sailors head coach Chris Polumbus felt that nerves may have affected her defense in those opening minutes and that the Warriors were able to capitalize on the opening-game jitters.
"It was a great learning experience," Polumbus said. "I think our defense came out a little nervous and tentative and we quickly learned that you can't do that at this level."
The coach quickly added that Arapahoe was the toughest team Steamboat has faced this year and that all of her players put forth a valiant effort.
Dunlop scored three goals (one assisted by her sister Sherwood) for Steamboat and also had an assist. Sharon Norman scored twice in the contest.
This is the second year in a row Steamboat has advanced to the first round of the state playoffs to face a No. 1 seed. Last year, the Sailors faced Air Academy in the first round and lost that game.
Polumbus said if Steamboat wants to step up to the next level, the team will have to start by improving its standing in its own league and get a better seed headed into the state playoffs.
The coach said she thinks that moving up the ladder in the Foothills League next season is a definite possibility. It's an opinion shared by all of the players.
"It was kind of sad," Dunlop said of this year's playoff game. "It was the last game for our seniors and we had a great bunch of seniors on this team. But I'm excited about next year and about this summer. I definitely think we can be even better."
Polumbus is hoping to hold some camps in Steamboat this summer and hopes a few of her players will head to other camps across the state.
"I think we met our goal this season," Polumbus said. "Now we just have to keep things going and improve again next season."
This year was the last for seniors Mehana Campbell, Kelly Escobar, Bethany Graham, Sharon Norman, Tracy Norman, Carly Swoyer and Bryn Weaver.
Polumbus said the team will miss all of the players who led by example on and off the field.