Steamboat Springs Statement officially made.
There aren't questions about which lacrosse team is the best on the Western Slope anymore.
Steamboat and Aspen came in as the top two teams in the Mountain Conference. As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Steamboat proved it's the class of the conference and region. The Sailors put on a lacrosse clinic for the second consecutive day, got goals from seven players and easily beat Aspen, 15-5.
"I don't think there is any question about it," Steamboat coach Bob Hiester said. "The league has to take a look at that and say, 'Wow, Steamboat has a really good program.'"
Certainly the game set up as more of a dog fight than it turned out to be. The two teams previously met in Aspen - an 8-5 Sailors win - and looked evenly matched. The first quarter Wednesday played out in the same vein, with Steamboat taking a narrow 4-2 lead into the second frame. After Aspen cut the Steamboat lead to 4-3 four minutes into the quarter, Steamboat hit its run.
The Sailors scored five goals in seven minutes - two each off the sticks of Gus Worden and Andrew White - to put the game at 9-3 with 2 minutes, 12 seconds left in the half.
Aspen's Zach Ware scored at the 1:02 mark to cut the lead to 9-4, but the damage had already been done.
"We had a good first quarter and Steamboat came out and had a nice opening in the second quarter," Aspen coach Mike Goerne said. "They were just moving the ball really quickly. Our guys gave a lot of hustle and heart but we didn't come out on top of a lot of breaks we needed."
The Sailors put the game out of reach in the third quarter with two quick Garret Ehrick goals and another one from White to make the score 12-4. The Skiers Nicky Fuller scored to cut the lead to 12-5, but the Sailors' Jack Spady scored a man-up goal to put the game at 13-5.
Tyler Samlowski and Connor Landusky scored late for Steamboat to end the game.
"Our team play has gotten better and better," Hiester said. "I think we've got good character. Now we're showing we can play in all the phases of the game."
Now with the season passing the midway point, each team turns one eye toward the postseason. For Steamboat (8-0) Wednesday's win puts them one step closer to a conference championship and automatic bid for the state playoffs. Aspen, at 6-3 and still second in the conference, still has a shot to get an at-large bid in the playoffs.
The eight conference champions get automatic bids while spots nine through 24 are selected via a coaches poll.
"I think we're right on pace where we need to be," Goerne said. "This is 6-3. A good Steamboat team is the only team to beat us twice. Summit has one, and I don't think Summit will get us again."
Steamboat continues play at 11 a.m. Saturday at Glenwood Springs.