Strong finishes from Steamboat Springs' three middle school boys lacrosse teams have players and coaches already thinking about next season.
Steamboat's sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade teams traveled to the Front Range last weekend to compete in the 11th annual Warrior Jamboree in Arvada.
Facing more experienced teams from larger schools, Steamboat's players fared well. The sixth-grade and eighth-grade teams pulled off several upsets at the 159-team tournament.
Steamboat's eighth-graders played their best lacrosse of the season en route to defeating Fort Collins, 2-1, and top-seeded Arvada, 9-1 -- the most goals Steamboat has scored this season.
"I knew before the season began that this was a talented group of kids," coach Neill Redfern said. "I'm so happy that we realized our potential this year."
Redfern credited goalie Cole Verploeg and defenders Mick Dierdorff, Chase Grippa, Ben Landusky and Kerry Timmerman with leading the team during the weekend. The eighth-graders eventually fell to the Creek Indians, 5-4, in overtime in the championship game.
Because of school obligations, the eighth-graders opted not to stay to compete in the consolation bracket Monday. The team finished 6-5.
The same was true of the sixth-graders, who also are still in school. The sixth-grade team, composed of players new to the sport, started the tournament as the No. 12 seed and upset No. 5-seeded Westside Vernon, 4-3, in an overtime shootout.
The game was tied 3-3 at the end of regulation. Steamboat goalie Casey Green blocked Westside's shot, and Lance Ostrom fired the winning shot for Steamboat. The sixth-grade team then upset No. 4-seed Boulder Valley, 5-3, avenging an earlier loss.
Steamboat then fell to the No. 1-seed Panthers, 8-5, after pulling within one goal in the second half. The sixth-graders finished 3-4.
"I'm so proud of the progress these made this season," Redfern said. "Going forward, we won't be sneaking up on anybody, as teams will be prepared to face a tough Steamboat team."
Steamboat's seventh-grade team was unable to get a win during the weekend and finished the season 3-8. But the improvements made between the beginning and end of the season aren't reflected in the record.
The seventh-grade team lost to Summit and Aurora.
"Although we had some tough match-ups (during the) weekend, we definitely made some great progress this year and will be a strong contender next year," coach Kevin Olsen said.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org