Steamboat Springs On the surface, it's as harmless a video as YouTube has to offer.
With less than 700 views, only two comments and a title that doesn’t even include the word “Steamboat,” it begs the question: What is it about the 8-minute, 35-second highlight reel that irks members of the 2014 Sailors boys lacrosse team?
The video is a tribute to 2013 Valor Christian lacrosse and the week it considers its turning point toward its run to the 4A state semifinals. The Eagles players in the video refer to the April 13 contest as “The Importance of Steamboat.”
The video goes on to review — to the backdrop of motivational music — the game’s scoring and Valor Christian’s second-half comeback that stunned Steamboat with its only home loss of the season.
Current senior and 2014 captain Ben Wharton started things off in the 2013 match, dropping in three goals to jump out 3-0. The Sailors rode a hot first half en route to an 8-2 lead 24 minutes in.
Then Valor Christian mounted its comeback.
The Eagles scored nine of the game’s next 10 goals, taking their first lead early in the fourth quarter, a lead that would spell out an 11-10 Valor Christian come-from-behind victory.
The video shows a herd of powder blue jerseys storming Gardner Field as the clock struck zeroes. Sailors slammed sticks on the ground and hung their heads in frustration. Steamboat would go as deep into the 4A playoffs as the Eagles did before they narrowly lost to Air Academy, but they have not yet had a chance to avenge that Valor Christian loss.
At 2 p.m. Saturday, the Sailors have that shot. This time, it'll be on the Eagles’ home turf.
“All our returning players for sure have seen the video, and everyone at least knows about it,” senior Michael Wong said after Steamboat’s 15-8 win at Windsor on Friday night. “Everyone knows and the seniors find it awful. It’s sort of embarrassing because it was us.”
Steamboat remained undefeated with Friday’s road win, with Ben Wharton, Willy Gunn and Sam Rossman combining for seven of the Sailors’ 15 goals. The Sailors shrugged off a slow start to take a commanding 10-1 halftime lead on its way to win No. 12 on the season.
The Sailors don’t keep quiet about their record — they long to stay undefeated — but Saturday’s game at Valor Christian has more on the line than improving to 13-0.
“It’s definitely a revenge game for our program after last year’s letdown,” Steamboat coach Jay Lattimore said. “Record is in the back of a lot of the kids’ heads, and at the same time, it would be a big confidence booster.”
But Steamboat will have to do it a bit shorthanded, with spring break conflicts pulling a few key players out of the Saturday afternoon contest. If the Sailors are to avenge 2013's loss, they’ll have to do it without Wong, Charles Toye and Harrison Smith.
Although Wong — one of Steamboat’s 2014 captains — won’t be there to help guide the roster on the road, he does offer some advice: It’s OK to use the YouTube video as motivation, but stay the course that got you to a perfect record.
“Keep it in the back of your mind,” Wong said. “Remember what happened. But, as the saying goes, eyes ahead. It’s a new game. It’s a new team.”
To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll