Steamboat Springs lacrosse team preps for Final 4 |

Steamboat Springs lacrosse team preps for Final 4

Luke Graham

Steamboat's Peter White plays May 8 in a 13-5 win against Windsor in the first round of the state playoffs.

— At this stage, getting Air Academy coach Ron Garcia or Steamboat Springs coach Bob Hiester to divulge much is fruitless.

But as the two lacrosse coaches enter the Final Four with their respective teams, what more can be said?

The two teams have seen each other play. They share common opponents, and come Wednesday evening, one will play for a state championship.

"There is no magic play. There is no magic pill," Hiester said about the 5 p.m. game Wednesday at Legacy Field in Aurora. "Let's go play four quarters of lacrosse."

Certainly, that's what it will come down to. But beyond the coach speak, it's easy to see why one-half of the Class 4A semifinals is an intriguing matchup.

The Kadets and Sailors sat in the top of the 4A polls all season, each viewed as legitimate contenders.

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Air Academy enters with a 16-1 record, its only loss coming to top-ranked Wheat Ridge, which plays Valor Christian in the other half of the bracket.

The two teams share three common opponents, and the Kadets went 3-0 in those games. Steamboat went 2-2 as the team played Cheyenne Mountain once in the regular season and again in the postseason for its two wins.

"You don't get to a Final Four without confidence in your team and staff," Garcia said. "I don't think it was by luck we all got here. I definitely respect Steamboat and where they're at. I respect where we're at."

Both teams like to turn transition into opportunity. The game, though, will be decided by possession, putting pressure on the all-important ground ball and face-off numbers.

The Kadets are led by a balanced attack. They have eight players who have scored in double figures in goals.

Junior Mitchell Miller leads the attack with 42 goals, and Jack Trask has 32.

Air Academy has had a relatively easy road to the semifinals, beating Green Mountain, 9-2, in the first round and Ponderosa, 10-5, in the quarterfinals.

In 2012, though, they lost to Steamboat, 9-8. It was Steamboat's first win against a Front Range team since 2010. Just two of those goals — one from Christian Ramirez and one from Tyler Scott — were scored by players on this year's Steamboat team.

Hiester said if his team has any advantage, it's that the Sailors have been battle tested after playing several tight games down the stretch, including winning in the quarterfinals against Cheyenne Mountain in the last two minutes.

Air Academy has played five three-goal games but just one since March 27.

"We haven't seen them tighten up. They're ready to go," Hiester said. "I think they know we're a real good lacrosse team. (Air Academy) is a good lacrosse team. We're just ready to play."

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

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