Photo by Joel Reichenberger
Steamboat Springs' Garrett Pugh tries to hang on to the ball while being checked by an opponent Sunday as the Steamboat eighth-grade lacrosse team beat the Panthers in the consolation game of the Steamboat Classic Lacrosse Tournament at Steamboat Springs High School.
Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Youth Lacrosse seventh- and eighth-grade boys lacrosse teams awoke Sunday morning to championship possibilities. But by days end, both fell short. Neither, however, was at all disappointed with their runs in the annual Steamboat Classic Lacrosse Tournament.
The seventh-grade team won its first game of the day, 10-1, but faltered while playing for the championship, falling 10-3 to Aurora. The eighth-grade team lost, 6-5, in its Sunday morning semifinal, then rebounded in the consolation game, beating the Littleton-based Panthers, 5-4.
"It was really nice for the weather to cooperate. The whole reason for the tournament is for us to not have to travel, so for us to all get in the games is great," Steamboat Youth Lacrosse director Neill Redfern said.
The eighth-grade team lost its first game of the tournament thanks in large part to an ugly first half in the semifinals. They nearly made up for it in the second half but couldn't claw all the way back.
Trailing by four goals at halftime, Steamboat improved its defense and put together a thrilling drive to tie the game in the waning moments. The team scored three goals in the last six minutes, and possessed the ball with a chance to tie the game with less than 30 seconds remaining. One shot flew just wide of the goal, however, and the comeback fell short.
"We were playing really slow before halftime but put a great second half together," coach John Worden said. "I was really proud of our boys for answering the call on that one."
Steamboat carried its second-half momentum into the third-place game. With a strong defense and solid play from goalie Tyler Saxe, the team won its third game of the weekend tournament.
"Our guys all weekend played great," Worden said. "There were times we were a little sloppy, but we had enough attention and enough focus to come away with the win."
The seventh-grade team didn't generate the same drama, but still took the field with the opportunity to win a championship Sunday afternoon. Playing in a round-robin format, the team was undefeated into its final game, winning twice Saturday and once early Sunday, defeating Columbine, 10-1.
Steamboat struggled against the eventual tournament champ, however, falling behind Aurora in the second half en route to the 10-3 defeat.
"That was the best we're going to play all year, by far," said Redfern, who coached the seventh- and fifth-grade teams. "We were happy. We played with them for a while in the first half. That team is just a step ahead of us right now."
Still, the wins stood in stark contrast to how the same Steamboat team fared at its home tournament a year ago. The seventh-graders finished 3-1 this year, but were 0-4 last year.
"We had a great tournament," Redfern said. "We made some great strides. That was huge. Everyone should be proud of themselves."
Steamboat also fielded a sixth-grade team that finished 3-1, and two fifth-grade teams. The fifth-grade white team was 1-2, while the red team was 2-1.