Steamboat Springs It's easy to find similarities between the Battle Mountain and Steamboat Springs high school boys lacrosse teams.
Both teams are from mountain towns and make the best of uncertain spring weather. Both teams reap the benefits of thriving youth lacrosse programs and show potential to compete with larger, more established Front Range programs in years to come. And judging by Tuesday's 12-6 Steamboat win, the two teams have a budding rivalry that should make the introduction of the Mountain League next year that much more enjoyable.
"It ought to be a lot of fun," said Battle Mountain coach Bob Daino, whose Huskies celebrated their inaugural season this year. "We're brand new and have a long way to go, but these kids love the game, and that's half the battle."
The win put the Sailors at 7-7, a .500 record that might stand for the season - the team has no more games scheduled, except a possible contest with Aspen after spring break.
The Sailors put a cap on their season with a tough matchup Tuesday. Playing with a team that closely resembled the school's hockey roster, Battle Mountain gave Steamboat everything the Sailors could handle.
Even when Steamboat jumped out to a 6-2 lead with two goals by Gus Worden and scores by Ian Anderson, Bryce Peters and Brian Bertrand, Battle Mountain battled back.
The Huskies cut the Sailors lead to 6-4 on goals by Barrett Chow and Coleby Henzlik. Then, with a man-up opportunity, Battle Mountain clanked a shot off the post that would have cut the lead to one.
"If that goes in, it's a completely different game," Steamboat coach Bob Hiester said. "But we fought back and stayed with it."
The Sailors followed with four straight goals - two by sophomore Garret Ehrick and one each by Tyler Ostrom and Jack Spady - to take control of the game at 10-4 early in the fourth quarter.
Henzlik and Danny Pylam scored for Battle Mountain to cut the lead to 10-6 before Chase Grippa and Spady added late goals to put the game away.
"We're doing some good lacrosse things," Hiester said. "It's more sophisticated lacrosse, and with the talent coming up, we should be poised to take the next step next year."
If all goes according to plan, that next step will be the Mountain League, consisting of Steamboat, Battle Mountain, Aspen, Summit and possibly Durango, among other club teams on the Western Slope.
A big part of that league should be the budding rivalry christened at Gardner Field on Tuesday.
Battle Mountain "reminds me of us in the past," Hiester said. "And we've made a lot of progress. I think we're poised to move up to that next level."