Steamboat boys lacrosse ends season with first-round playoff loss
The No. 17 Steamboat Springs High School boys lacrosse team wrapped up its season with a 12-3 loss to No. 16 Evergreen in the first round of the Colorado High School Activities Association 4A boys lacrosse playoffs on Tuesday, May 10.
“We got outplayed from the first whistle to the last,” said coach Neill Redfern. “They pressured our offensive guys and we couldn’t handle the pressure.”
The Sailors went into the game confident they could beat Evergreen. Earlier in the year, Steamboat lost 9-5 to Evergreen and were sure they had improved since then. Unfortunately, they weren’t able to put that on the field on Tuesday.
The Cougars played slowly, so Steamboat had to pressure them to make a move, leaving gaps on the field and allowing Evergreen to score and rack up a 4-0 lead after one quarter.
The game symbolized a season in which the Sailors never quite hit the standards they were aiming for.
“We underachieved,” Redfern said. “We lost a couple games we should have won and we had a couple solid winds. From a wins and losses perspective we thought we were going to win more games regardless of our schedule.”
The Sailors schedule was tough, featuring many top-10 teams in addition to league opponents. Despite going 6-9 during the regular season, Steamboat was still ranked No. 17 going into the playoffs thanks to strength of schedule. The Sailors were one seed away from hosting a game, but instead traveled to No. 16 Evergreen.
Steamboat didn’t lose to all the top-10 teams they faced. They defeated Western Slope rival Eagle Valley 11-5 in a game Redfern thinks showed the team’s quality.
“I think the highlight of the season was beating a pretty good Eagle Valley team right after spring break,” he said. “We played well. We beat them soundly and that was after we were 3-7 before spring break.”
Eagle Valley is now the No. 8 team in the playoffs.
The win could have been a huge turning point for Steamboat, but instead, they followed the victory with a 9-6 loss to Summit, a team that went 2-13 on the year.
“That’s sort of hard to explain,” Redfern said.
The team had high expectations of the year, which had the potential to be the 13th straight winning season. They also knew they would have to step up to replace the seniors they lost last year.
“We lost a lot of guys. We lost our goalie and we lost three all conference defensemen,” Redfern said. “We knew we were going to have some holes to fill on the defensive end.”
Steamboat did its best to do that on both ends of the field, but ultimately, wasn’t able to achieve a winning record. The 2022 season turned into a rebuilding year of sorts, which is not what the seniors Luke Wichelhaus, Kellen Adams, Griffin Park, Christopher Faunce, Ben Schott, Shea Pepin, Reeves Kirby, Tommy Meissner and Zach Fredrick were hoping for.
“Yesterday didn’t end how they wanted it to end,” Redfern said. “It’s a good group of guys. They all played hard to the end and hopefully they’ll look back and have some great memories of our season. I’ll miss all those guys.”
Adams and junior Jeffrey Hubler were unanimous first-team all-conference selections, while junior Andrew Kempers was a first-team all-conference pick and sophomore Brady Adams was an honorable mention.
Even with the loss of the seniors, Redfern has confidence the team can return to its winning ways in 2023.
“As a team, and individually, we need to choose to commit to putting in the work,” he said.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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Editor’s note: This story will be updated as new information becomes available.