McCarthy’s game-winner lifts Steamboat girls lacrosse to 1st-ever win against Grand Junction |

McCarthy’s game-winner lifts Steamboat girls lacrosse to 1st-ever win against Grand Junction

Wyleigh Myers, left, and Julia McCarthy celebrate after a late second-half goal from McCarthy gave Steamboat a 15-14 lead against Grand Junction.
Joel Reichenberger

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — She usually catches the ball, Steamboat Springs High School sophomore Julie McCarthy said, but she couldn’t help reinforce to herself how important it was she catch one particular pass as it hurtled toward her Wednesday afternoon.

The Steamboat girls lacrosse team had once been cruising for a win against Grand Junction, a victory that would have been the first against the Tigers in the Sailors’ history. They led by as many as six goals, and fairly late in the game. That big advantage came crumbling down, however, as a second-half Grand Junction surge tied the game with just 35 seconds to play.

Steamboat managed to get possession after the face-off, and it turned to its leading scorer, sophomore Riley Schott.

Schott ran up the field with the ball and scanned for an opportunity.

It all made plenty of sense.

Schott is the team’s leading scorer and, with six more goals Wednesday, sits third in the state with 45 goals on the season.

Teammate Lucy Shimik is just as effective. She scored seven goals Wednesday and has 40 on the season, sixth in the state.

Steamboat had games this season where it’s proven it has more depth with other players getting in on the action. Shimik and Schott have scored 68 percent of the team’s goals this year, down considerably from last season’s 81 percent.

Senior Isa DeMorat has 22 goals this season, her younger sister Gabby DeMorat, a sophomore, has seven and senior Wyleigh Myers five.

But, if you’re Steamboat and you need one shot to win a game? It’s hard to imagine going wrong with either Schott or Shimik.

The top pair scored all but one of the team’s goals to that point, Myers accounting for the other. There was 35 seconds to play, everything knotted 14-14, and the Sailors were teetering on the edge of being a key figure in someone else’s miraculous comeback story if Schott couldn’t make something happen.

Except, she was covered, not just by a Tigers defender but by a pack of them.

McCarthy tried to help.

“I tried to isolate her, to pull my defender away,” she said.

But that didn’t work. Instead, her defender left her entirely and joined the mob guarding Schott.

“So, I found the perfect opportunity,” McCarty said.

She swung out wide, then, about 30 yards out, approached the goal, and Schott tried to pick her way through the defense while coming in from the other direction.

She was still alone and quickly approaching the goal.

“There was no plan,” McCarthy said. “I was open enough I thought, ‘Oh yeah.’”

Then the pass came.

She usually catches passes, she said, but she doesn’t get many passes this important.

“Sometimes, it slips,” she said. “I just thought, ‘I better catch this.’”

It didn’t slip this time. It came in a little low, but she pulled it in clean and immediately turned to fire. She didn’t square up, didn’t study for an opening and didn’t approach any closer.

She shot.

“I usually shoot as quickly as I can. Sometimes that doesn’t benefit me,” she said. “This time it did.”

The ball ripped right over the goalie’s left shoulder and buried into the net.

The Sailors stared down one more threat in the final 15 seconds, but the Tigers’ shot went wide as Steamboat’s Ava Thiel minded the net.

Steamboat won, 15-14, getting its first-ever win against Grand Junction

“I caught it and shot,” McCarthy said, “and it felt awesome.”

The Sailors travel Thursday for a game at Green Mountain, then play April 30 in Steamboat against Battle Mountain.

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

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