Steamboat Springs High School lacrosse player Penn Lukens defends against a Cheyenne Mountain player on Friday. The Sailors won, 10-9, and now will play

Shannon Lukens/Courtesy

Steamboat Springs High School lacrosse player Penn Lukens defends against a Cheyenne Mountain player on Friday. The Sailors won, 10-9, and now will play

Steamboat Springs boys lacrosse advances to state semifinals

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Shannon Lukens/Courtesy

The Steamboat Springs High School lacrosse team celebrates its 10-9 win against Cheyenne Mountain on Friday night. The Sailors now will play in the state semifinals on Wednesday.

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Trask Family/Courtesy

Christian goal at approximately 1 minute and 30 seconds left in the game to go ahead, 10-9.

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Shannon Lukens/Courtesy

Penn Lukens keeps a Cheyenne Mountain player from getting to the net on Friday during the Sailors 10-9 win.

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Shannon Lukens/Courtesy

Steamboat Springs player Tyler Scott goes up against a Cheyenne Mountain player during the game Friday.

— All season, it seemed like this was the one.

Preseason expectations don't count for much, but 2013 always has been about where the Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse team could end up.

On Friday in the quarterfinals, Steamboat proved it belonged among Class 4A’s elite.

In uncharted territory, Steamboat advanced to the Final Four, beating Cheyenne Mountain, 10-9.

“They thought it may have been a fluke,” Steamboat’s Thomas Tarcha said. “But beating them a second time proved we were the better team.”

It certainly did. On a rain-soaked night in Lakewood, Steamboat did enough to get the win.

It wasn’t a case of two teams meeting for the first time. Steamboat beat Cheyenne Mountain, 9-7, in early April.

At the time, the win was the biggest of the season. It proved Steamboat was a legit contender in 4A.

Friday’s win cemented it.

“The day after (a playoff loss to) Kent Denver last year, (coach Bob) Hiester called the juniors in and said, ‘What’s the goal?’” defenseman Penn Lukens said. “We wanted to make a state playoff game. We’ve had that goal forever. We wanted to finish that goal and play the next game.”

It wasn’t easy.

Both teams rolled through the first round. Steamboat beat Windsor and Cheyenne Mountain easily dispatched Summit.

It was the matchup each team had highlighted.

“We knew we had a huge target on our back,” Lukens said. “We had to play them twice and play them in the playoffs. It was a tight game. We had to play our best.”

Riding that wave of energy, Cheyenne Mountain went up 2-0 early. In the past, that would have doomed Steamboat.

But the Sailors answered to take a 3-2 lead. From there, the back and forth never swayed one way or the other. Steamboat was calm, eventually earning the school’s first trip to a lacrosse Final Four.

“Everyone played a hell of a game,” Lukens said, thanking Neill Redfern for his work with youth lacrosse. “The whole team played spectacular. I couldn’t pick an MVP.”

Now Steamboat sets its sights on Air Academy. The No. 2 overall seed beat Ponderosa, 10-5, on Friday setting up an intriguing matchup.

The two teams have three common opponents in Cheyenne Mountain, Aspen and Valor Christian. The Kadets went 3-0 against them, their only loss on the season coming against heavy 4A favorite Wheat Ridge. Steamboat was 2-2 versus the same teams.

The semifinals will be played Wednesday at Legacy Stadium. A time hasn’t been decided.

Watch clips from the game here.

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

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