Steamboat boys lacrosse advances to quarterfinal despite penalty trouble at home
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The ability to win despite penalties is not a characteristic to retain in the playoffs, but the Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse team will take it in the first round.
At No. 4 in Class 4A and after an undefeated season in the Western Slope, the Sailors (13-3) entered the game against No. 13 Jefferson Academy Jaguars (7-9) as an obvious favorite.
The Jaguars lacrosse program, although only in its fourth year, came off a year in a tough Northern League conference, hoping to make the most of its first-ever playoff appearance.
Penalties provided opportunities for the Jaguars to flip the script in the second half, but the Sailors capitalized on its first half dominance to ride out a 14-6 victory, advancing to Friday’s quarterfinal round.
“Happy with the guys. They did enough to win,” Steamboat head coach Jay Lattimore said. “But it definitely wasn’t how we need to be playing to be successful on Friday. Luckily, we have two days of practice to get everything more focused.”
Jefferson Academy won three of the four opening face offs, threatening with the first goal of the game by freshman Seth Bins to take the 1-0 lead.
Sailors junior Sean Janka intercepted a pass on defense to lead Steamboat down the field on its first breakaway run on the attack. Senior Jacob Gilbertson slammed the first ball in the back of the net for the Sailors, 1-1, and senior Tyler Doyne followed suit, 2-1. Gilbertson finished the game scoring on four of his nine shots on goal as the top scorer for the Sailors. Doyne, alongside seniors Kieran Hahn and Tallak Mhyre, were the next top scorers adding two goals apiece.
Jaguars sophomore Joe Cesario capitalized on the next attack, tying it up for the Jaguars at 2-2. Cesario ended the game as the Jaguars’ top weapon with three goals.
The Sailors pulled away with a 5-2 lead in the first quarter, then extended a 9-2 lead at half.
But the Jaguars came out fighting in the second half, converting on the opportunities they had with a one-man advantage from penalties.
“They’re a good all-around team from top to bottom,” Jefferson Academy head coach Cory Hughes said. “I think the guys never wanted to give up. We wanted to keep fighting back. They were excited to be here, and they didn’t want to end today, and they kept that fight until the clock ran out.”
The Sailors committed four penalties in the first half, then added five alone in the third quarter and three more in the fourth.
Junior Griffin Maltby finished with six saves in the first half, and the comfortable lead allowed sophomore Kaden Hovey to take over in goal during the second half. The increased attack challenged Hovey, but he held strong, finishing with 10 saves.
“These guys play a pretty physical brand of lacrosse,” Lattimore said. “Especially when they let them play in the first half, they continued. There were some close calls there, and we’re just looking for our offense to put more goals in the net as well and not make the defense play as much.”
As the penalties added up, the Jaguars closed in, outscoring the Sailors 2-1 in the third quarter. The Jaguars scored two goals to the Sailors’ four in the fourth, unable to overcome the deficit.
The Jaguars scored all four of their goals when the Sailors were one man down, and Lattimore emphasized that being able to win despite penalties will not be a luxury going into the quarterfinals.
“It’s because we have a lot of big, strong physical guys who come in with speed,” senior Kieran Hahn said. “We’re going to have to tone it down with more discipline.”
Steamboat awaits the winner of No. 5 Green Mountain and No. 12 Battle Mountain on Wednesday to determine its opponent for Friday’s home quarterfinal.
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