Steamboat boys lacrosse eliminated in state quarterfinal for third year in a row
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — This one hurt for Steamboat Springs High School senior Jackson Lynch.
Lynch scored the final goal for the Sailors in the last 17 seconds of the state quarterfinal game against Green Mountain, his fourth that game. It almost seemed perfectly choreographed. Steamboat senior Kieran Hahn jogged up to senior Jacob Gilbertson, who had the ball to start the play after a penalty.
The two nodded, and next thing you knew, Lynch squared up in the center, slamming a shot in the net to bring the Sailors within two of the Rams, 10-8.
“You’re too late!” a man shouts from the crowd.
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The same man shouts, “Semifinals, baby!”
Steamboat’s crowd didn’t care. It cheered, knowing it was possible the Sailors could tie this one up.
But they didn’t. The Sailors won the faceoff, charged down field, only to turn over the ball to Rams’ junior Quinn Meinart, who lightly jogged up the field until the clock ran out.
No. 5 Green Mountain advanced to the Class 4A state semifinal game, upsetting No. 4 Steamboat at home, 10-8.
Rams poured out from the bench to join in celebration as the Sailors hung their heads on the other end. Lynch lingered behind, still on the attack. He pushed one of the Rams that blocked his escape, then joined his teammates.
“It’s not what we were looking for, but these are the best guys I’ve played with,” Lynch said. “There’s no other people I’d want to lose with.”
“They fought ’til the end, you always want that in a team,” Steamboat head coach Jay Lattimore said. “We got energy in the fourth quarter, so the loss doesn’t hurt as bad when you still have good energy. I’m proud of our guys for keeping their composure.”
The Sailors struggled to find the net in the first quarter. Four-time all-state senior goalie Ryan Burdi’s quickness eliminated every angle the Sailors tried, and the defense limited their shots.
“I think the defense played really well in front of him,” Rams head coach Nate Hallahan said. “He trusts the guys playing with him. He’s athlete of the year at our school and he’s a great player.”
Sophomore Kaden Hovey was in net for the Sailors, and after the Rams took a 4-0 lead, junior Griffin Maltby took his place in the second quarter.
Rams senior Karson Bell scored his third goal in the second half to give the Rams a 5-0 lead before the Sailors scored their first.
Lynch took a pass from senior Tallak Mhyre on the outside to score the down the middle just nine minutes into the second quarter. The second goal didn’t take as long. Senior Matthew Kempers charged up the middle for a goal with 19 seconds left in the half, pretending to rip his shirt at the chest as he stomped and pointed to the crowd.
The Sailors looked to have the momentum going into halftime. They limited the Rams to just one goal in the second quarter.
But the Rams kept taking small steps ahead. Bell scored his fourth goal within the first 30 seconds of the half. Junior Trey Towndrow added another soon after to extend a 7-2 lead. Lynch scored his second for the Sailors and Towndrow followed up with the next two.
Senior Tyler Doyne closed the third quarter bringing the Sailors to a 9-4 score, back to where they started.
The comeback the Sailors were waiting for the whole game came in the fourth quarter. Within eight minutes, Steamboat brought the score within two, 9-7. Plenty of time remained on the clock, but when the Rams scored their final goal, it seemed like the nail in the coffin.
“Steamboat has gritty kids and a phenomenal crowd here, the town came out to watch,” Hallahan said. “The emotion of high school kids is a real thing, so when they got into the emotional part of the game, they played a real physical game.”
Lynch’s final goal came too late.
“They wanted it, you could tell from the beginning,” Lattimore said. “They got that first punch in and that’s really important in this game.”
Bell and Towndrow finished the game as the top scorers for the Rams with four goals apiece.
“They just got momentum and just kept going and going and going for those last three minutes,” Bell said. “They had a huge crowd here and it kind of sucked because we only didn’t get home field advantage by point zero zero something, but we came out and we competed.”
Steamboat graduates 20 seniors on the team not ending the season in the way they had hoped. This was the Sailors’ third straight year to lose in the state quarterfinal, and their first to play it at home. They finish their season with a 13-4 overall record.
It’s now been five years since the Sailors last saw the state semifinals. Lynch will be at Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas, playing lacrosse for a new team he hopes is as fun as this one. After playing his heart out, his face reddens and tears well up when he’s asked what his parting message is to the future of Steamboat lacrosse.
“Good luck,” Lynch said.
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