The Steamboat Springs boys lacrosse team concluded its 2003 season -- the second year of the program's existence -- with a 7-2 loss to Green Mountain on Friday night.
Under the lights, the Sailors and Rams played even for nearly three quarters before Green Mountain pulled away from the home team with five goals in the final 19 minutes of play.
"There were two places in the game where we gave up too much in a row," Steamboat coach Bob Hiester said. "You can tell the difference in the offensive skills, but I thought we played well defensively."
Most of Steamboat's players have no more than two years of lacrosse experience picked up this season and last season. Stick skills in lacrosse are similar to that in hockey: essential but slower to develop.
The Sailors finished 2-10 this season, and the stick skills and basic understanding of the game progressed over the course of the year, according to both Hiester and his players.
"We played a lot better this season," sophomore Danny Carlson said. "Coach wanted us to work more on our stick handling."
Hiester wanted the team to run more of an offense as well, getting rid of the frequent one-on-one attacks that characterized last year's team.
The Sailors' first goal of the game came on a well-executed play. Off a pass from senior Zach Forcum, Carlson wrapped around the back of the net and shot the ball high over goalie Adam Wilcox's head.
Several minutes earlier, Carlson had the ball knocked out of his stick on a similar play. The second time he made sure to put a shot on goal with six minutes left in the quarter.
"I always know someone is going to be behind me," Carlson said. "Most goals from close range are low so I went high over his head."
With 2:48 remaining in the first, Green Mountain sophomore Cade Carlson scored the first of his three goals Friday to even the score.
The Rams added another goal in the second off Chad Belt's shot. The Sailors were a man down on defense after a penalty, enabling Green Mountain to get an easier shot on goal.
For most of Friday night's game, the Rams were patient on offense, passing the ball around up top and working the ball around the net looking to isolate several players.
Steamboat did a good job, particularly in the first half, of limiting Green Mountain's easy shots.
The Rams found more room to shoot midway through the third quarter and into the fourth.
Steamboat sophomore Henry Howard tied the game at 2 three minutes into the third off a pass from senior Cooper Howard at midfield.
But then Green Mountain took control of the game.
The Rams scored five unanswered goals to close things out, scoring twice just 40 seconds apart around the 7-minute mark of the third.
Green Mountain's final goal of the game came with 25 seconds left on the clock.
Friday's loss was the final game for seniors Cameron Shinabarker, Brenden Gormley, Jeremy Youngs, Cooper Howard, Zach Forcum, Patrick Rogers and Ian Kirkpatrick.
Next year, Steamboat will move on from its independent schedule and join a league, meaning the Sailors should have more than one home game per season.
With 17 freshman and other underclassmen, including Carlson, the team's leading scorer, Hiester is optimistic that the program will continue to move forward.