11 wins lead to sweet season for Steamboat girls lacrosse team | SteamboatToday.com

11 wins lead to sweet season for Steamboat girls lacrosse team

— The Steamboat Springs girls lacrosse team capped off its best season in more than a decade Wednesday at Gardner Field with a 12-7 home win over Eagle Valley.

"It was a great way to end the season and a great way to end my high school career playing lacrosse,” Steamboat's Cassett Yeager said. "This is one of the best seasons that I have ever played. This was the best team and best everything. It's been awesome."

Ending the 2017 season on a winning note was also awesome for the team's four seniors who were playing their last games in a Steamboat uniform.

Yeager scored the first goal of the game with 19:07 left to play in the first half to give the Sailors an early lead over Eagle Valley.

But the lead was short lived as Eagle Valley got goals from Lindsay Martinez, Abby Jewett and Camille Blose to take a 3-1 lead midway through the half. Blose assisted two of the three goals.

The first half was a game of runs for both teams, and after Eagle Valley took the lead, the young Steamboat team came roaring back to life.

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Goals by Riley Schott (7:32), two from Lucy Shimek (5:13 and 3:26) and another from Ellie Crouch with just 32 seconds remaining in the half helped the Sailors secure a 5-3 advantage headed into the break.

But Eagle Valley also had hopes of leaving Gardner Field with the win.

"We worked really hard on improving our defense in practice yesterday," Eagle Valley coach Jessica Dondero said. "I think it showed for most of the game, but I think they got tired in the last couple of minutes, and that was the difference."

The game was a back-and-fourth battle for most of the second half. Eagle Valley got back in the game thanks in part to goals from Martinez (21:25) and another from Blose (17:25) to tie the game at 5-5.

Steamboat's Schott gave her team some breathing room with two for the home team to make the score 7-5, but Eagle Valley's Rachel Devlin kept things close with a goal of her own to make the score 7-6.

Things took a turn when Eagle Valley inadvertently put the ball in the back of their own net while attempting the clear the ball with a little over 12 minutes to play. Sailors coach Betsy Frick thinks that mistake may have shifted the momentum to the Sailors’ favor.

"We were pretty evenly matched — probably more so than the score indicates, and they played really well," Frick said. "I think when they had the own goal, it was a little bit of a let down for them. After that we really took advantage of our opportunities … As soon as you get a little gap then it gets easier because the pressure is off."

Steamboat got a goal from Alicia Mitchell, then Schott intercepted a pass right in front of the Devils’ goalie and put the ball in the back of the net. Yeager then scored for the second time to give Steamboat an 11-6 lead.

Steamboat's goalie Ava Theil was solid in the closing minutes and finished the game with 11 saves.

"I feel like we have a really strong freshman class right now," Schott said. "If we all continue to play lacrosse and keep moving with our upperclassmen, I think we will be really strong. It's really good that we have a middle school program now, so that when the players get to high school, they will have a lot of experience."

When asked if she was disappointed that the season will end short of the state playoffs, Schott preferred to look at where the Sailors are headed.

"I just think this year was more of a development year,” Schott said. “It was really good for us to get this far and having a lot of success."

The team is graduating four seniors, including the members that formed the core of the defense for the last four years including captains Maura Glynn and Yeager. Glynn helped anchor the Sailors defense the past four years along with fellow seniors Sammy Koepfer and Ellie Crouch.

Frick said she is going to miss those seniors and understands that filling those holes will be key to the team’s success next season. But she is also optimistic after Steamboat capped off one of its best seasons ever.

"If anyone had said that we were going to end up at 11-4, nobody would have believed it," Frick said. "I think the future is looking pretty good for these girls."

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966