Huskies lacrosse finally beats Steamboat
EDWARDS — And the rematch is set.
For the first time since the schools started playing each other in 2009, Battle Mountain boys lacrosse beat Steamboat Springs, 13-9, on Wednesday night in Edwards to win the Eastern Division of the Mountain Conference and advance to play at Aspen on Friday for the league title.
“Of course, everyone in our league is a rival. Beating Steamboat meant a lot simply because I hold their program in such high regard,” Huskies head coach Jerry Nichols said. “That’s the God’s honest truth. … It also shows how far our program has come.”
Steamboat (9-6) is on the younger side, having graduated 16 players from last year’s team, which went to the state semifinals, but the Sailors, over the young history of the sport in the mountains, have set the standard for the region.
“They worked hard,” Sailors coach Jay Lattimore said. “Battle Mountain’s a good program and we can hopefully learn some stuff from this game, taking care of the ball and pushing ourselves to being the best we can. Hats off to Battle Mountain. It was a good game down to the end.”
Steamboat heads to Grand Junction on Friday for the third-place game.
Wyatt gone wild
It was Senior Night for Battle Mountain (11-3), and Huskies senior Wyatt Dilling certainly had a good time with six goals.
“It was great,” he said. “Can’t go any better than that.”
Teammates Clayton Davis and Cole Delain kept feeding him at the doorstep and Dilling kept shooting.
“As soon as the first three went in, I knew they would keep coming,” Dilling said.
After a frenetic first nine minutes which saw both teams pot four goals each, the Huskies settled down.
“I had trouble seeing the ball,” Battle Mountain goalie Max Schramm said. “I couldn’t get into a rhythm. Second half, we were talking and it changed the way we play.”
The Huskies’ Charlie Morrow gave his team the lead for good at 5-4 with 2:20 left in the first half and Battle Mountain led 6-5 at the break.
The Sailors kept it close in the third until Dilling struck with four seconds left in the period. Dilling chimed in again to start the fourth for a 10-7 advantage. Steamboat’s Willy Gunn notched two of his team-high three goals during the final 12 minutes, but Battle Mountain was pulling away.
Dilling ended up with a hat trick in the fourth period alone, while Delain had his fourth goal, and the Huskies punched their ticket to Aspen.
How many seniors?
Halftime took quite a while as the Huskies honored their 14 seniors and “Stats.”
The 14 are Keenan Zopf, Mike Lange, Eli Stephens, Tony Clark, Max Brunette, Windham Miller, Schramm, Davis, Mac Kelsall, Jon Rulon, Dilling, Jack Nichols, Adam Jones and Crane McGuckin.
Coach Jerry Nichols spent a good portion of postgame deferring the accomplishments of this senior class to assistant coach Pat Doherty, who has coached this crew since they were freshmen.
“While this is Senior Night, Pat is the biggest senior of them all. I know this means a lot to him,” coach Jerry Nichols said. “This is a milestone for me, but every win, how far we go is going to be special to Pat because he’s coached this senior class for four years straight.”
If Doherty is senior No. 15, that makes Gordon “Stats” Smith, 80-years young, senior No. 16. As his nickname would indicate, he’s been the Huskies’ statistics’ keeper since the program started and will be retiring from that role after the season is done. Pretty much every senior player thanked “Stats” in their halftime remarks.
Truth be told, Battle Mountain is pretty much a lock already for the 4A state playoffs, when the bracket comes out on Sunday at chsaa.org, regardless of Friday’s showdown with the Skiers. The Huskies are fourth in both the unofficial CHSAA Poll and the more important maxpreps.com rankings, while Aspen is second and third, respectively.
There is the little matter of payback for a 5-3 loss last week in Pitkin County and last year’s 8-7 overtime loss in Edwards during the state quarterfinals.
“We’re ready,” Schramm said. “We’ve been waiting for this after we left their field last week. We’re going to come ready to play.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.