Girls lacrosse looks to finish strong
Out of playoff picture, Sailors fight to finish
Steamboat Springs — Despite sitting with a 10-3 record as it approaches the end of what’s easily been the best season in program history, the playoffs aren’t in the picture for the Steamboat Springs High School girls lacrosse team.
Still, coach Betsy Frick said there’s plenty to play for as the team enters the final week of its season, opportunities that stand out, even in the program’s most outstanding campaign.
The Sailors play at 4 p.m. Monday at home against Battle Mountain, a team they could beat for the first time ever. Steamboat then plays at 4 p.m. Wednesday at home against Eagle Valley to end the season.
“It would show the program is improving,” Frick said, considering the chances of two wins. “They’re conference games, so they’ll literally determine how these three teams place.”
Steamboat’s played both teams once this season, losing by an overtime goal against Battle Mountain, then beating Eagle Valley 11-9. Neither of those games counted for the league standings, however, and this week’s will.
Steamboat is out of the race to win the league. Aspen’s at the top, with a 7-0 record, and Grand Junction, 5-1, is second. With a perfect week, Steamboat could slide into third, but even a perfect week likely won’t be enough to push the Sailors into the state’s 20-team playoff bracket.
League champs get an automatic playoff berth, then, the rest of the field is decided by RPI rankings. Steamboat’s currently 31st, well out of the conversation.
The problem for the Sailors is strength of schedule, or more particularly, opponents’ winning percentage, one of the figures in the RPI formula. Steamboat opponents have won 31.3 percent of their games this season, which ranks 50th among the 52 teams playing varsity girls lacrosse this season.
That strength of schedule is a common problem for mountain teams. No more than two have ever qualified for the playoffs, and only one, Aspen, is currently in line to make the cut this year.
“For the Mountain league to have a chance at a third team, all of us need to increase our strength of schedule,” Frick said.
Still, finishing with a flourish would cap an eye-popping season for the Sailors and could lay the groundwork for more of the same in the future.
Steamboat is led by two of the top young players in the state, sophomore Lucy Shimek and freshman Riley Schott, currently ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in scoring among all Colorado girls lacrosse players.
Frick hopes consistent success can help build the roster.
“I’ve always said we won’t really get competitive until we have enough players that we have a full junior varsity schedule,” she said.
A full JV team not only breeds experienced upperclassmen, but also competitiveness on the varsity roster.
That’d be a change. Frick said, six years into the program, she’s usually still sweating out the numbers every spring, hoping not to fill a JV team, but simply to have enough for varsity.
Winning two games this week may not change that immediately, but it could continue to push the team in a positive direction.
“Winning those games would help more players come back and make it a little easier to recruit kids next year,” Frick said. “We have the best record we’ve ever had, but it will be even better if we can win these last two games.”
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