Learning the game | SteamboatToday.com
Melinda Mawdsley

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Learning the game

Lacrosse tournament helps young players hone skills

— Kevin Olsen has been around lacrosse for most of his life, so he understands the importance of starting the sport at a young age.

On Saturday, the seventh-grade Steamboat Springs team he coaches passed the ball around, made great checks and scored 11 goals in a lopsided win against the Eagle County lacrosse team.

This is the first year of organized lacrosse for many players on the Steamboat team,, and they have gone from not being able to catch to winning games in less than two months.

“We’ve come leaps and bounds since our first practice,” Olsen said.

Jack Verploeg and Parker Mortensen started lacrosse for the same reason middle-school children do most things: because their friends were involved. Others were intrigued by the sport.

“I had seen lacrosse on TV and wanted to try it out,” Scott Ptach said.

Saturday, Ptach and Mortensen each scored a goal in Steamboat’s 11-1 win in the Steamboat Classic Lacrosse Tournament, the first middle school lacrosse tournament staged in Steamboat.

Fifth-, sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders with sticks and pads took over the Emerald Park soccer fields. For as popular as soccer is in Steamboat, lacrosse is equally as popular in the Front Range, Olsen said. Lacrosse enthusiasts living here are trying to bring the sport to life on the west side of the Continental Divide.

With teams from Steamboat, Edwards, Carbondale, Eagle and Summit County in attendance this weekend, it appears as if the sport has caught on.

“Last year, all my friends were talking about it,” Mortensen said.

This year, he came out.

Lacrosse is physical and involved, but the middle school players seem to be picking the sport up quickly. On Saturday, Steamboat scored six first-half goals en route to the win. Goalie David Lea, a first-year player, was great in net for the home team, as well.

“We were really relaxed and focused on what we needed to do,” Ptach said.

“We were physical,” Verploeg added.

“We shot at the ground,” Mortensen said, summing up things Steamboat did correctly.

Scoring goals for Steamboat on Saturday were Johnathon Ricker, Andrew White, Tyler Samlowski, Darian Buelter, Jack Spady, Ian Anderson, Garret Ehrick, Mortensen and Ptach.

The seventh-grade team plays at 10 a.m. today at Emerald Park and again at 1 p.m.

Steamboat also has sixth- and eighth-grade teams in the tournament, and their games are at Emerald Park, as well.

To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208

or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com