Steamboat Springs Arguably the best evidence of lacrosse's growth in Steamboat Springs can be seen in the seventh- and eighth-grade Steamboat Youth Lacrosse teams.
Both teams went 2-0 during Saturday's Steamboat Classic Lacrosse Tournament.
The seventh-grade team remained undefeated on the year, improving to 9-0. The team beat Summit, 9-2, and Aurora, 5-1, at Emerald Park.
The eighth-grade team beat Summit at Steamboat Springs High School and then topped the Fort Collins Vipers, one of the best seventh-grade teams in the state.
Steamboat's seventh-grade win against Aurora was all the more impressive considering Aurora beat Steamboat by double digits last year.
"I think last year our team didn't really play that much together," said Christian Ramirez, a player on the seventh-grade team. "Now, on the weekends when we could just be hanging out with our friends, we all go to the high school and throw it around."
In the game against Aurora, Steamboat took an early 3-0 lead into halftime. Aurora cut the lead to 3-1 in the first minutes of the second half and had another chance minutes later, but goalie Ben Custer turned the shot away.
"It's crazy," Custer said. "Last year, we lost to the same team 13-1 or something like that, and this year we creamed them. Everybody is coming together and working hard."
Steamboat's eighth-grade team and Fort Collins fought a tight battle that Steamboat eventually won, 2-0.
Neill Redfern, the director for Steamboat Youth Lacrosse and coach of the seventh- and fifth-grade teams, said the work in practice and in summer leagues has been the biggest difference.
"They have great anticipation offensively and defensively," Redfern said. "We transition so well from defense to offense. Most of them played summer ball last year, and their stick skills are a lot better than they were."
In other action, the sixth-grade team beat the Arvada Blizzard, 5-2, before losing to the Littleton Panthers, 9-2. The Steamboat white fifth-grade team lost to Littleton, 8-4, and the Steamboat red fifth-grade team lost to Columbine, 9-3.
Play continues today. The fifth-, sixth- and seventh-grade games all will be played at Emerald Park. Most of the eighth-grade games will be played at Steamboat Springs High School.