Steamboat Springs The sanctity of high school sports often lies in second chances.
Redemption, sometimes revenge, but a possible second chance for the Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse team emerged from Tuesday’s Class 4A playoff opener.
With a 14-4 win against 11th-seeded Conifer, No. 6 Steamboat will likely get another opportunity against personal — and statewide nemesis — Valor Christian.
“It would be huge for these guys,” Steamboat coach Jay Lattimore said of a potential rematch with Valor. “Playing in Valor at their stadium with a berth on the line to go to the Final Four. This game means something. It’s about staying alive. It’s not about an undefeated streak.”
Valor and Durango play at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. Steamboat lost to Valor, 11-10, in overtime earlier this year. The loss was the Sailors' first blemish of the season. They also suffered a loss to Valor by the same score in 2013.
But before Steamboat could get that second shot, it had to deal with a physical Lobos squad Tuesday.
The Sailors wouldn’t let another slow start doom them, running out to a 4-1 first quarter lead and 5-1 halftime advantage.
The Sailors got a pair of first-half goals from Mitch McCannon and one each from Jackson Perry, Ben Wharton and Peter White.
The unsung hero, however, was goalie Kaleb VanArsdale. With Steamboat up 2-0 less than three minutes into the game, the senior made a trio of big saves to keep Conifer scoreless.
“He’s clutch,” junior Will Petersen said. “That’s one word to describe him. He’s the best in this league and possibly one of the best in the state.”
Steamboat extended the lead to 8-2 going into the fourth quarter on goals from Perry, Wharton and Drew Williamson.
Conifer, though, started to make it interesting. The Lobos added two goals early in the fourth to cut the margin to 8-4. Then play got physical, with each side taking a barrage of penalties that left one Lobo ejected from the game.
Steamboat fed off the play, closing the game on a 6-0 run to make it a laugher.
Wharton added two more goals, with White, McCannon, Williamson and Willy Gunn each adding one more.
A win in the next game “would take us back to the semifinals,” VanArsdale said. “It’s big for us. It would be the second time in two years if we beat them (Valor). It will show we’re consistent.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham