Sailors drop home opener |

Sailors drop home opener

Steamboat Springs Tyler Samlowski battles a Columbine player for a loose ball during Friday's 14-2 loss at Gardner Field.
John F. Russell

— Columbine coach Steve Bailey knew before his team left Denver at 7 a.m. Friday that chain laws were in effect for Rabbit Ears Pass.

But when the Rebels descended into Steamboat, Bailey not only found sunny skies but a green Gardner Field that had more than six inches of snow on it as recently as Thursday.

“We knew there’d be snow banks and everything like that,” Bailey said after his team downed Steamboat, 14-2. “We were just hoping through our experience that sometimes it clears up pretty quickly if we’ve got some good weather here.”

While the weather helped, so did several plow trucks and the Sailors lacrosse players, who traded in their lacrosse sticks for shovels early Friday morning.

Unfortunately for Steamboat, Columbine – who has been able to practice in an indoor lacrosse facility – looked like the more refined team.

“We’re fortunate we’ve had an indoor facility that has this same type of turf,” Bailey said. “It’s given us the ability to play on that. Which if we hadn’t and had to be practicing in the gym like a lot of teams, we might not have been so good on the ground balls.”

Steamboat has been one of those teams that has had to practice in the gym and has had only three practices outside – one of which included clearing the field.

“This is a big, big learning experience for us,” Steamboat coach Bob Hester said. “Just to see the width and the breath of the field and how long it is : it’s a different game than the gym. It’s good for us.”

Early on, Steamboat struggled with the transition outside. Columbine’s Matt Jui scored 31 seconds into the game to take a 1-0 lead. Steamboat answered when Kevin Bertrand knifed through several Columbine defenders to tie the score at 1.

The Sailors wouldn’t score again until the first minute of the third quarter, when Bertrand added his second of the game – and the last Sailors’ goal – to cut the Rebels’ lead to 8-2.

“I think we started playing better in the second half,” Bertrand said. “We started to shake off the rust. We realized Columbine came to play. We’re just going to use the momentum from (Friday) and put it against Golden.”

Maybe the most telling stats from the game – and the difference between a team that has been practicing at an indoor lacrosse facility and team that has been practicing in a gym – were the shots on goal and ground balls won.

Columbine held distinct advantages in both areas. The Rebels outshot the Sailors, 43-7, and won 33 more ground balls.

Still Hiester said more good than bad came out of the game.

“We made strides, and we got better as the game went along,” Hiester said, “and that’s what we want.”

Steamboat plays Golden today at noon at Gardner Field.

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