Steamboat Springs boys lacrosse team advances in playoffs |

Steamboat Springs boys lacrosse team advances in playoffs

Luke Graham
Christian Ramirez takes the shot and scores in Steamboat's victory against Windsor.

— The halftime speech was short and succinct. Besides, the Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse team had heard it for the past two weeks.

Steamboat's previous third quarters had become a thorn in the team's side, costing the team a top seed weeks ago in a loss to Valor Christian and nearly another game last week to Grand Junction.

Not so this time.

Steamboat blew a close game with Windsor wide open in the second half, running away with a 13-5 win in the opening round of the Class 4A state playoffs Wednesday.

The sixth-seeded Sailors led just 5-3 at half before scoring the first four goals of the third quarter to take a 9-3 lead.

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"We've been talking about it for a while," Steamboat coach Bob Hiester said about the team's slow second-half starts. "We said, 'Hey, let's elevate our game and not let things repeat itself.'"

That was certainly the case. Steamboat never trailed in the game but never could pull away in the first two quarters. The Sailors led 3-0 early in the second quarter on goals from Peyton Trask, Dane Dixson and Ben Wharton.

But the Wizards, seeded 11th in the 16-team bracket, answered with a man-up goal from Hunter Hopp and a goal from Joe Sanger to cut it to 3-2.

Goals from Steamboat's Christian Ramirez and Thomas Tarcha made it 5-2 before Sanger cut it to 5-3 right before halftime.

Part of Steamboat's struggle on offense in the first half was Windsor's zone defense. Windsor packed the defense in, limiting Steamboat's chances.

In the second half, the Sailors started to make crisper cuts and overload the zone.

It went from a close game to a runaway in a hurry. Peter White and Trask added tallies before Wharton started to find space behind the net, adding two more goals to give the Sailors a 9-3 lead.

Windsor pumped two more in late in the third before Wharton scored two more to start the fourth quarter. Ramirez and Trask added late goals for the end result.

"We knew we had to not let the third-quarter slump happen," said Wharton, who scored four of his five goals in the second half. "We've done a new drill at halftime to get us accurate and moving. A lot of it was just mental."

Now, it's a rematch of teams in the quarterfinals. Steamboat will travel to No. 3 Cheyenne Mountain, most likely Friday. A game time has yet to be determined.

In early April, Steamboat made the same trip and never trailed in coming away with a 9-7 win.

"They'll be coming with smoke coming out of their ears," Hiester said. "We have to match their intensity. We have to play our game at a higher level. We can't have any dips. We can't have these three- to five-minute spells where we aren't playing well."

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email

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