The clouds rolled in and a few sprinkles fell before the opening draw of Thursday's girls lacrosse game between Steamboat Springs and Columbine high schools. Uncharacteristically, however, the spring weather cooperated with this mountain town, and the first spring game of the year was played on Gardner Field.
Columbine went on to defeat Steamboat, 18-7, but the Rebels did not pull away until the final 10 minutes of the second half when Sailors senior Brittany Innes, one of the few veterans on the team, went down with an injury.
"Offensively, we did really well," Steamboat coach Sarah James said. "Without the last 10 minutes, it would have been a very competitive score."
The Rebels pulled out to a 6-0 lead in the first half of Thursday's game before the Sailors' offense awakened behind the leadership of senior Samantha Pal.
Pal took the draw at the 12 minute, 12 second mark and, without hesitation, ran straight toward the Columbine goal and Rebels goalie Molly Grout. Pal went low and fired a shot past Grout to put the Sailors on the board.
"I saw an opening," Pal said. "Usually we pass it around. It kind of picked up the momentum a little."
Steamboat went on to score the next four goals, bringing the score to 6-5 with 2:35 left in the first half.
In that 10-minute span, the Sailors picked up goals from Innes, Maria Heilner and Hana Zittel, as the trio teamed up with Pal to attack the net.
"We shot down and that was a different tactic," Zittel said. "We lost focus in the end, but in the beginning we were connecting things together."
James said the skill of the young Steamboat team showed in its first-half comeback effort, as the Sailors began to beat the Rebels to ground balls and took solid shots on goal. Steamboat goalie Courtney Adamo assisted her team in the comeback and kept them in the game with several great stick and body saves on Columbine attempts.
The Rebels scored three quick goals at the end of the first half to push their lead back to four, but the Sailors responded in the first eight minutes of the second half with a goal from Zittel and one from Innes.
Columbine scored at the 13:47 mark and went on an 8-0 run to close out the game.
"There are moments of weakness on defense, but they are just moments," James said. "And they know right away when they make a mistake."
The high school football field, also known as Gardner Field, is the only surface in Steamboat large enough to hold a lacrosse contest, and the grass held up well for Thursday's game, which was welcome news to the Sailors.
Steamboat is at a competitive disadvantage, considering its opposition typically has a freshman, JV and varsity program, whereas the Sailors have one team of 20. Throw in the fact that Steamboat rarely sees a lined, grass field, and it is easy to understand why the availability of the football field is so important.
Saturday, Steamboat returns to action when it hosts Evergreen at noon at Gardner Field. The Sailors will be looking to pick up their second win of the season.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail email@example.com