Valor Christian shoots by Steamboat boys lacrosse in playoffs | SteamboatToday.com

Valor Christian shoots by Steamboat boys lacrosse in playoffs

Steamboat senior Bryan Gilbertson tries to hold on to the ball as a pair of Valor Christian defenders get physical. Valor built a big first-quarter lead and Steamboat never fully recovered, eventually losing 16-6.

— Valor Christian's offense looked legitimate on paper, and, as it turns out, it's not half bad in person, either.

The Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse team saw more of that offense than it wanted to Friday night. Playing at home, the Eagles scored early and often and ran away with a 16-6 win in the Class 4A state quarterfinals.

Steamboat ends its season 9-8.

Valor Christian is an intimidating place to play, starting from the moment an opponent's bus rolls onto campus — past a towering steeple, between tall, crisp and new brick buildings and on to an immaculate field wedged into an expansive school-side sports complex.

On the field, the Eagles are the defending state champs. Mix it all together, and add a decidedly young Steamboat Springs team, and the result was a stomachs-full-of-butterflies start for the Sailors.

Valor jumped out to a 3-0 lead before Steamboat managed a significant possession on its offensive side of the field. The score was 5-1 after the first quarter.

Steamboat was much better through the second and third quarters, closing to within 10-5 midway through the third. A series of Valor penalties — 3 minutes, 30 seconds worth — offered a chance to cut the margin considerably, but Steamboat could never take advantage.

"We had a really solid third quarter, and we were hoping to build some momentum going into the fourth, but it just didn't happen," Steamboat coach Jay Lattimore said. "The biggest thing was conditioning. They looked super fast, and that was a message I sent to our underclassmen."

Valor slammed the door with two goals in the first 80 seconds of the fourth quarter, then four more through the rest of the period.

"They pass the ball really well," Steamboat senior Peter Wharton said. "The only real difference between our team and their team — we can match them with feet all day — is that they just have sharper stick skills"

David LaPointe and Colin Musselman each scored two goals for Steamboat. Max Lynch and Tyler Doyne scored one each.

Valor advances to play in the state semifinals. For Steamboat, meanwhile, the season's over. Lattimore said the season, and even Friday's finale, should linger with his young squad for the next couple of years.

They came into the spring with few seniors and even fewer experienced varsity players. They leave the spring with their first playoff win since 2014, a victory earlier in the week against Aspen. And, they leave with a bruising loss to Valor, but one they still took pride in after it was over.

"It was a big game for us. It was great we had a really young team that was able to get this experience," Lattimore said. "It will help us focus for next year."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9