Roughnecks split opening day games

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Standing on the sidelines, waiting to take the field for his second game of the afternoon, Kevin Olsen was trying to decide whether his upper arms that had turned a reddish-pink color, were sunburned, beat up from getting hacked by lacrosse sticks, or both.

Considering the intensity of the sun and the level of lacrosse out at the Christian Heritage Fields on Saturday, the answer was probably both.

The 2-year-old Steamboat Springs men's lacrosse team opened the Steamboat Lacrosse Invitational on Saturday with a close 10-9 loss to the Hooligans from Denver. The Steamboat Roughnecks came back in the afternoon and easily defeated Altitude from Denver, 15-3.

Heading into the tournament, Olsen said he thought the team had a chance to do well. Judging by the scores Saturday, there is a chance the Roughnecks may walk away today with a championship in the tournament they've waited two years to host.

Steamboat plays Altitude at 11 a.m. today. The winner advances to face the Hooligans at 2 p.m. Both games are at Christian Heritage Fields west of town across from Steamboat II.

Unlike some of its competitors, Steamboat features a team with players of all ages, from teenagers getting ready for their junior year of high school to more seasoned players such as Kevin Nerney and Mark Louden. The combination of youthful energy and experience worked well for the Roughnecks on Saturday, particularly in the second game in which seven players either scored or had an assist.

Co-captains Scott Meyer and Dave Pieknik led the way for the Roughnecks, combining to score six of the 15 goals. Meyer also had two assists. Meyer and Pieknik grew up playing lacrosse in the Midwest before heading to college. Meyer played on the club team at the University of Dayton, while Pieknik played on the practice squad at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.

It is obvious who has played lacrosse at a very high level compared to those who are relatively newer to the sport, but the high school players who may have picked up their first lacrosse stick two or three years ago have made drastic improvements while playing with adults this summer.

Jake Flax said there was some hesitation before he and some of the other members of the Steamboat Springs High School lacrosse team went to the first men's practice earlier this summer.

"They were all really big," Flax recalls.

But the veterans have embraced the younger players and respect their desire to improve. Flax, whose brother Andy also plays on the team, said everyone's game has improved.

"This is a blast," he said. "They've taught us about stick protection. If you put your stick out, they will take your arm off."

Saturday, Flax had two goals and two assists. High school and Roughnecks teammate Danny Carlson had two goals and two assists, as well. Yoshi Yonekawa, the Sailors' goalie, also played well for the Roughnecks in net.

Also scoring for Steamboat were Dennis Treubig (two goals), Jim Dougherty (two goals) and Erik Sharp (one goal, one assist).

Olsen, the third of Steamboat's captains, is the primary organizer behind the Steamboat Lacrosse Invitational, as well as the formation of the club last summer and already was looking forward to next summer.

"This is a small start," he said of the three-team tournament. "We've got a team from Texas that saw our ad in the paper and already said they want to come up next year."

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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