Steamboat Springs defenseman John Burrow passes the ball during Friday afternoon’s game against Grand Junction High School. Steamboat next plays at 1 p.m. today at home against Fruita-Monument.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs defenseman John Burrow passes the ball during Friday afternoon’s game against Grand Junction High School. Steamboat next plays at 1 p.m. today at home against Fruita-Monument.

Steamboat Springs lacrosse beats Grand Junction, 11-4

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Steamboat Springs sophomore Christian Ramirez is pushed from behind by the Grand Junction goalie during Friday afternoon's game at Gardner Field.

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Steamboat Springs Jackson Coe reaches for a pass from his teammate during Friday afternoon's game against Grand Junction High School at Gardner Field.

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Steamboat Springs Lance Ostrom gets knocked off his feet while driving toward the Grand Junction goal in the first half of Friday night's game at Gardner Field.

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Steamboat Springs Lance Ostrom passes a ball while driving toward the Grand Junction goal in the first half of Friday night's game at Gardner Field.

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Steamboat Springs Grant McCannon looks to pick up a loose ball in the closing seconds in the first half of Friday's game against Grand Junction High School.

— Conventional wisdom says that at some point, the Mountain Conference will eventually catch up to the Steamboat Springs High School lacrosse team.

Friday wasn’t that day.

Although Grand Junction made Steamboat work for it — and showed that the gap is narrowing — the result was reminiscent of much of the past three years of Steamboat’s Mountain Conference resume. 

The Sailors at times used a precision, movement-oriented offense — seven Sailors scored goals — to pick away at the Tigers, running away with an 11-4 win. 

Steamboat is now 6-2 overall and 6-0 in the Mountain Conference. The Sailors have outscored conference opponents 82-14. In the conference’s three years, Steamboat has lost less than Charlie Sheen.

“I thought the first half we played well,” Steamboat coach Bob Hiester said. “That’s a much improved lacrosse team. I thought we got sloppy in the second half. But anybody we’re playing can sneak back in there. This team is much improved over where they’ve been.”

Steamboat got a pair of goals from John Wharton and one each from Grant McCannon and Lance Ostrom to jump out to a 4-0 lead.

Kai Rogers added two more in the second, and Wilber Ranieri and Wharton added one each to give Steamboat an 8-0 lead, before Grand Junction awoke from its slumber. The Tigers pumped one in right before the half and opened the third quarter with a goal to cut the lead to 8-2.

The evidence was there in the second half that Grand Junction might be the closest Mountain Conference team to Steamboat.

Whether it was the Sailors’ struggles — the team was as sloppy as it has been — or the Tigers’ adjustments at halftime, Grand Junction played Steamboat to a 3-3 draw in the second stanza.

“When you come out in the first quarter and first half, and playing someone else’s game, it’s not fun,” Tigers coach James States said. “We got them to calm down and play Tiger lacrosse. I think we’re definitely improving, and the second half it’s getting better. The competition is getting better.”

The third quarter saw both teams struggle with consistency. Passes weren’t crisp, and play was highlighted by short, haphazard possessions. 

Finally, Steamboat’s Jackson Coe, Ranieri and Ben Wharton added goals midway through the quarter, and Grand Junction added one more, to give Steamboat an 11-3 lead after three quarters. 

Grand Junction added a late goal in the fourth quarter for the result.

“We were just in that warm weather, slacking a lot,” Ranieri said about the second-half struggles. “We were up by that much, we just slacked off a lot. It’s a total mental game. It’s hard to stay focused and go 100 percent every game.” 

Steamboat next plays at 1 p.m. today at home against Fruita-Monument.

— To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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