Steamboat's Nikki Fry tries to fight through a pair of Rampart defenders Friday. Fry scored five times in the game, matching sophomore Teagann Yeager for the team high. Yeager scored with two seconds remaining to force overtime, but the Sailors couldn't hang on, falling, 15-14.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat's Nikki Fry tries to fight through a pair of Rampart defenders Friday. Fry scored five times in the game, matching sophomore Teagann Yeager for the team high. Yeager scored with two seconds remaining to force overtime, but the Sailors couldn't hang on, falling, 15-14.

Steamboat girls lacrosse falls in overtime thriller

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Steamboat's Teagann Yeager celebrates with teammates after she scored the tying goal with two seconds remaining Friday against Rampart. She had a career-high five goals.

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Aleigh Aurin puts up a shot Friday against Rampart. She had four goals in the game.

— To consider how an overtime loss might be greeted with smiles and congratulations, one needs to look no further than the waning moments of that loss.

The Steamboat Springs High School girls lacrosse team was desperate to regain possession as the final seconds ticked away Friday against Rampart, which was sitting on a 15-14 lead that soon became final.

The Sailors didn’t handle the situation well, didn’t abandon their defensive assignments to chase the ball carrier and force action that could have led to a turnover.

And why not?

They’d never been here before, never in overtime and only rarely in a close game. They’d barely touched on the situation in practice.

Such are the penalties of the Steamboat girls lacrosse team’s rapid ascension from nothing to junior varsity status to last year’s winless varsity season to this season, which is shaping up to be one of firsts for the squad.

It was obvious again Friday: The Sailors are improving before their fans’ eyes, game by game and even minute by minute.

“I’m thrilled. It was fun, and the girls played their hearts out,” coach Betsy Frick said.

The team’s finest moments came in the waning minutes of the second half, well after Rampart seemingly had run away with what had been a high-scoring slugfest in the first half.

The teams combined for seven goals in the game’s first seven minutes, and Steamboat’s Aleigh Aurin tied things at five when she scored her second consecutive goal late in the first half. It was all Rampart for the rest of that half and most of the next, however, and the Rams retook the lead and ran it as high as 12-5.

“I thought we had a chance early, but it looked like maybe they’d walk away with it,” Frick said.

But Steamboat didn’t settle for “it was close before halftime.” Teagann Yeager kicked off a furious rally, scoring two goals in a little more than a minute to restart the Sailors with 9 minutes, 25 seconds remaining. Nikki Fry and Aurin each added two more of their own, and Yeager capped off the stunning surge in the most dramatic fashion possible.

With Aurin hobbled by a tweaked ankle and Fry on the bench with two yellow cards, Yeager charged down the field to pull her team within one, 13-12, with 15 seconds remaining. Then she did it again, scooping up the ball and sprinting 60 yards to tie the game with two seconds remaining.

It was her fifth goal, a career high.

“She played great the whole game,” said Fry, who also finished with five. “When she was running with it, I knew she’d put it in the back of the goal.”

Rampart scored twice quickly to take control in the overtime period. Aurin managed one answer, but Steamboat couldn’t find another.

That did little to dampen the Sailors' soaring spirits.

“We played really well,” senior Jessie Wallace said. “To go into overtime with a Front Range team, that shows we’re a serious team and that we can play with teams that aren’t just from tiny mountain towns.”

They could have been better at the end, but Friday, they were happy to take it one step at a time.

“They showed a lot of growth and a lot of grit on their part that I haven’t seen in the past,” Frick said.

Now the Sailors, 2-5, are preparing for another new phenomenon: entering a game as a big favorite. They beat Eagle Valley, 11-3, earlier this month and host the Devils for a rematch at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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