Steamboat Springs A win’s a win, but Saturday’s 11-3 triumph for the Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse team against Durango may have spoken to a bigger philosophical change in the program.
Not too long ago, any win would be a big thing. Now, there was the sense that a game like Saturday’s — where Steamboat dominated ground balls and possession but looked sloppy at times — can’t happen.
Call it setting the bar higher, or the Sailors, the defending Mountain Conference champions, just having larger expectations for themselves.
“I mean, we played solid, but I thought we made some mistakes that will really hurt us against better ball clubs,” Steamboat coach Bob Hiester said. “It’s stepping on the line or being offside. It’s those little things that change possession. Little things like that caused turnovers here (Saturday). Against higher-caliber teams, that will cost us ball games.”
Steamboat, now 2-0 overall and 1-0 in conference, had just a 5-2 lead at halftime. It wasn’t that the Sailors weren’t getting opportunities, rather it was what they were doing with those opportunities.
“Their goalie was shutting us down up high,” said Brian Bertrand, who had two goals on the day. “We sat down at halftime and took the offense together and said, ‘Shoot low, and we will win this game.’ We came out and started shooting low, and they went in.”
Steamboat scored four goals in the third quarter to take a 9-2 lead into the final quarter and put the game away.
One of those third-quarter goals came from senior defenseman Darian Buelter, his first high school goal.
“I just saw the middle of the field was wide open,” Buelter said. “I saw one of our attackmen was open, but I figured he gets enough glory, so I took the shot. I wasn’t sure it went in, so I had to check.”
In addition to Bertrand and Buelter, Jackson Coe, Jack Spady and Garret Ehrick each had two goals. Andrew White and Drew Ruff chipped in one apiece.
Now that Steamboat has its first conference win out of the way, the team looks to an important stretch of conference games that could determine that champion and automatic berth into the state playoffs.
Steamboat has its first prolonged road trip of the season this week. The team travels to Grand Junction on Friday and Saturday for a pair of games. Steamboat plays at 4 p.m. Friday at Fruita and at 11 a.m. Saturday against Grand Junction High School.
“That’s huge. Now we’re 1-0 in the conference, and that’s a big deal,” Hiester said. “That’s where we want to be. But now we have to deal with the road trip and two games in a row. We have to maintain focus and intensity levels for a Friday and Saturday ball game. It’s a bus ride and a night in a hotel. You have all that stuff. But we’ve done all that before.”