3 Steamboat juniors push lacrosse team over the top | SteamboatToday.com

3 Steamboat juniors push lacrosse team over the top

Steamboat Springs lacrosse players, from left, Tyler Samlowski, Drew Ruff and Garret Ehrick have proven to be a force on this year's Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse team.
John F. Russell

— It wasn’t hard to find Steamboat Springs High School juniors Garret Ehrick, Tyler Samlowski or Drew Ruff during the summer.

As creatures of habit, the three would meet at 10 a.m. at Gardner Field nearly every day during the warm months.

There, they’d play lacrosse, work on their shots and ground balls and prep for what each thought could be a successful lacrosse season.

The hours could get long and the drills repetitive, but now the three are a huge reason why Steamboat is atop the Mountain Conference standings and looking like the team has a legitimate shot to make the state playoffs for the first time in school history.

“You can tell they have played together for a while,” said Steamboat coach Bob Hiester, noting the three have played with or against each other since sixth grade. “They are more reactive to each other. What’s neat about those guys is they’ve played and continued to work hard in the offseason. That’s made a real nice midfield line with them.”

Despite playing together for more than six years, it wasn’t until this year that the three juniors were put on the same midfield line.

Last season, Ruff played on the third line, Ehrick was on the second line, and Samlowski was on the first line.

But through the summer workouts and playing together in the offseason, they started to exhibit the talents and camaraderie displayed by a top line.

It was never more evident than the second game against Summit this season. After beating the Tigers, 8-5, in an earlier contest, the Sailors were locked in a back-and-forth game. Summit took the lead when confusion between Samlowski and Ruff happened in the defensive end.

After a little jawing between the two, it was over.

“We realized that wouldn’t help,” Ruff said.

Minutes later, the midfield line proved why it’s one of the best. The three perfectly rotated together to get Ehrick on a short-stick defender. Ehrick ripped a shot and scored with five seconds left to give Steamboat an 11-10 win and top billing in the conference.

In a way, the three juniors have evolved with Steamboat lacrosse.

Each started in Steamboat Youth Lacrosse in sixth grade, allowing Steamboat to go from proverbial laughing stock to legitimate contender.

“I think it shows,” Ehrick said about playing together for so long. “Starting young is such a big part of the game. It’s a thing to look forward to with all these kids starting so young.

I never thought we’d be here my freshman year. To tell the truth, I never thought we’d be over .500. But this year, we’re pretty much dominating everybody.”

Now, with a third of the season done and Steamboat looking like the class of the conference, Hiester said the three will play a pivotal role in how far Steamboat is able to advance.

To reach the playoffs, the Sailors almost assuredly will have to win the conference. Hiester said at this point, Steamboat has two options: the team either gets better or it gets worse.

And although it doesn’t start or stop with the top midfield line, the play of the junior trio will be a huge part of Steamboat’s success.

“We want to work on going undefeated,” Samlowski said. “We can’t have a big head going into these next few games. Nobody is a pushover in this league. I definitely feel like a leader. If we set that tempo first, everything and everyone will follow.”

– To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229 or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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