Sailors boys lacrosse escapes upset bid, beats Summit by 1 |

Sailors boys lacrosse escapes upset bid, beats Summit by 1

— Unsexy or not, a win is a win this season in the boys lacrosse Mountain Conference, where the league leaders aren’t exactly storming way ahead of the middle-of-the-road squads.

After a hot start Thursday night at Gardner Field, the league-leading Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse team quickly cooled off but hung on to knock off visiting Summit, 8-7, in a game that wasn’t decided until the final buzzer.

The Sailors raced out to a 4-0 advantage after one quarter, and held on to a 5-1 halftime margin, causing the Tigers’ coaches and players to bicker at one another a bit.

And perhaps the bickering worked, because Summit couldn’t miss, and Steamboat couldn’t buy a shot to start the second half. Over the 12-minute span in the third, the Tigers erased the Sailors’ lead and knotted the game at 6-all heading into the fourth quarter.

The two teams traded goals in the fourth, the first coming from Steamboat junior Jackson Draper off a quick steal. Summit’s Wil Laidlaw used a nifty move on the other end and sliced in the equalizer with 7:44 to go. Then Draper poured in what proved to be the game winner with 4 minutes left, while Summit never got another opportunity.

The game was a far cry from the last four times the teams have faced off. Between 2011 and 2014, Steamboat routed Summit by margins of six, 12, nine and 11 goals. The Tigers didn’t score more than two goals in any of those games.

“The parity in this league is just continuing to grow,” Steamboat coach Jay Lattimore said. “Hopefully this opens their eyes a little more that even the teams from the middle to the bottom of our division last year are contenders this year.”

The Tigers’ fight was largely due to the Sailors’ inability to stay out of the penalty box, especially in the second half. Steamboat committed three costly third-quarter penalties alone, paving the way for the Tigers’ 5-1 run, where only Noah Bass found the net for the Sailors.

“More or less, I think it came down to getting a couple penalties and just being a man down,” Lattimore said. “We need to work on our man-down defense a little more after being exposed a little bit.”

Draper had a career day, and without him, the Sailors would likely have lost. The junior had four goals, one in the first quarter, one in the second and two in the fourth. Senior Willy Gunn tacked on a pair of goals, and Tait Dixson and Bass had the other two.

Steamboat used a three-goalie system again, starting Aaron VanderGraaff in front of the net before Connor Smith took over for much of the second half. Sophomore Peter Wharton finished the game, but wasn’t tested much.

“Jackson Draper had a big game today,” Lattimore said. “We’ve been waiting for him to really break out. He’s got tons of skill; he’s just been having some tough luck in some games earlier this season.”

The Sailors improved to 4-2 overall and 2-0 in league play, keeping them tied atop the conference with undefeated Battle Mountain. Steamboat gets back on the field Saturday at home against Fruita Monument. Faceoff is at 10 a.m.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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