Steamboat Springs Middle School student Tyler Doyne, left, checks Cooper Jones during the second annual Steamboat Chumash Challenge on Sunday morning at Gardner Field.

Photo by Ben Ingersoll

Steamboat Springs Middle School student Tyler Doyne, left, checks Cooper Jones during the second annual Steamboat Chumash Challenge on Sunday morning at Gardner Field.

Prep athletes get a taste of lacrosse in the fall

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— There was some crying and laughing, talk of strategy and some much more lighthearted moments. But draped in uniforms and sporting wacky team names, dozens of prep lacrosse players enjoyed an unconventional fall tournament Sunday at Gardner Field.

The second annual Steamboat Chumash Challenge didn’t draw the big numbers organizer Betsy Frick would have liked — down nine boys teams from a year ago — but it did attract some passionate lacrosse players to a fast-break style competition.

Playing in teams of three to five on a condensed field, players played the half-court basketball style of lacrosse with a 6-foot-by-1-foot net at center field. Implementing rapid substitution, players were obligated to “check” the ball when possession was gained, similar to pickup basketball.

The goal? Defend and score on the drastically narrower net at midfield, which sharpens players’ marksmanship and team strategy, Steamboat Springs High School sophomore Joe DeLine said.

“It’s definitely fun because it mixes it up,” DeLine said. “It’s not something you’d be doing every day. It’s more about shooting precisely with the little net and moving around a lot with the short field.”

In a growing popular sport in Steamboat, lacrosse players grades fourth through 12th were welcome to compete in boys and girls divisions. Frick, the Steamboat Sailors girls lacrosse coach, thought a Chumash tournament this time of year would be a good way to condition some players and draw a little more interest in the prep season, which begins in March.

In the fifth- through seventh-grade division, which consisted of five teams, the Titans went a perfect 3-0. The Pink Mashers, a group of sixth-graders sporting pink socks, were the only team to record a goal against the Titans.

The high school division featured four teams, and the Jackson Perry team featuring Perry and fellow senior Ben Wharton dominated that pool, also going a perfect 3-0.

Girls attendance was up from the first Chumash Challenge, with 13 players competing. The 13 girls alternated teams, many of whom were experiencing live game play for the first time.

Frick’s varsity Sailors squad graduated 10 seniors out of her 12 starters from a year ago, so the Chumash Challenge is her way of getting inexperienced girls some valuable field time in a competition setting.

“It was good. Every little bit helps to get kids experience.” Frick said. “For me, it’s just trying to get girls out playing and see what a real game is like with a real ref.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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