Steamboat boys lacrosse picks off home win | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat boys lacrosse picks off home win

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There are the usual high hopes this spring for the Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse team, plans for a playoff berth and then a drive through that bracket.

The season started with one big win, but the ensuing games haven't done as much to justify those postseason hopes.

Saturday may have been different.

The Sailors locked down on defense, loosened up on offense and knocked off a Front Range contender, Windsor High School, 7-4.

"We knew we needed this one, and we battled every chance we could get," Steamboat coach Jay Lattimore said. "Good things happen when you don't give up at all."

That defense paved the way for Steamboat, and it stretched to both ends of the field.

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There was no better example than a fourth-quarter goal that put the game out of reach for the Wizards.

Steamboat junior Jacob Gilbertson has had a bit of a slow start to the season, but by choice. He missed half of the team's games so far as he's continued competing on the big mountain skiing circuit, but as that schedule has lightened up — only the North American Championships remain early next month in Utah — he's been more of a presence for the lacrosse team.

He certainly made himself heard in that fourth quarter. He started to drop into defense after a Steamboat turnover, but unexpectedly doubled back to apply a little in-your-face defense to the Wizards trying to advance the ball up the field.

That quickly led to a turnover. Gilbertson scooped it up, dashed 30 yards down the field and rocketed the ball by the goalie, scoring Steamboat's seventh goal.

"I acted like I was going out, then came back in and I surprised him a little bit. It worked out really well," Gilbertson said. "That was our main focus of the game, to try to put the pressure on them right away and during the clear before they even got a chance to get to the goal."

That wasn't a one-off moment for Steamboat, which set out to pressure Windsor up and down the field. That approach managed to stunt half a dozen Windsor possessions before they really even started, and it kept Steamboat's own scorers prowling with the ball looking for openings.

They found those openings. Davis Peterson scored two first half goals, then another in the third to make it 5-3. Mac Moody followed that score fewer than 60 seconds later with another, pushing the lead to three goals.

"Our offense did a great job playing defense when they were trying to clear the ball and we got a handful of extra possessions, which helps in a close game," Lattimore said. "When it comes down to our defense, those guys played really disciplined and stayed out of the penalty box today and really worked hard as a team."

Steamboat entered the week ranked ninth in the state by CHSAANow.com and sits atop the Western Conference in a tie for first place. It's 2-0 against mountain teams, including a 14-4 win earlier in the week against Glenwood Springs.

It beat mountain foe Eagle Valley 14-3 earlier in the month, and its next five games and all but one for the rest of the regular season are against similar league teams.

Steamboat hasn't had that same success against Front Range teams, however, and that's why Saturday's win was an important one in the Sailors' eyes.

Windsor is now 1-4 on the season, but its losses have come against some of the best teams in the state. It was ranked in the preseason top-10 and has been a fixture in the playoffs, where it beat Steamboat in the first round in 2015.

Before it prepares to dive into the heat of the race for the league title, starting Tuesday on the road at Summit, Steamboat had one last chance to show it could hang with a solid Front Range squad.

"We had some tough losses at the beginning of the season, but we're improving a ton," Gilbertson said. "It's going in the right direction."

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