Vail Valley preps: Sailors cruise to third crown, 9-2
EDWARDS – Battle Mountain girls lacrosse had a pair of games scheduled Friday against Telluride. The Huskies took one look at the weather and wisely moved that pair of matches inside to the WECMRD Fieldhouse.
One has to give the ladies some serious props for judgment after the Steamboat Springs and Battle Mountain boys lacrosse teams duked it out in the snow Friday afternoon for the Mountain Conference crown.
“I felt like I was walking on high heels,” joked Sailors junior John Wharton. “It turned out being kind of fun sliding around.”
It was fun for Steamboat Springs, which skated to a 9-2 victory over the Huskies, clinching its third consecutive Mountain Conference crown and a berth in the state playoffs.
Steamboat’s win left two questions in its wake. Can the Sailors, now playoff regulars, get that elusive postseason win? And will Battle Mountain get a playoff spot with a win today against Grand Junction?
As for the first query, Steamboat built its schedule around that goal. The Sailors, who finished the season at 9-6, rolled through their Mountain opponents and spent their six nonconference tilts playing anyone and everyone on the Front Range.
“We’ll find out at the seeding meeting on Tuesday,” Sailors coach Bob Heister said. “We’ve lost four games by one goal (sic), so I think we can be competitive in the playoffs.”
The Sailors lost to Grandview (13-12), Air Academy (10-9), Valor Christian (6-5) and Littleton (6-4), so the law of averages dictates that if Steamboat does get a decent draw, this may be the year.
As for Battle Mountain, which suffered just its second Mountain loss of the season, there is the consolation that two teams made it to the postseason last year from the Mountain Conference in 2010. Though the fact that the league sent two teams last year is no guarantee of the same this spring, Battle Mountain (12-2) can wrap up second place in the standings with a win today against Grand Junction, and 13-2 would look nice to a selection committee.
“I want to focus on Grand Junction before answering questions about that,” Huskies coach Kevin O’Brien said of possible playoff scenarios. “After the game, we’ll see what happens. It’s about finishing strong. Grand Junction isn’t going to roll over for us. They’re a good team.”
Hat trick of titles
Steamboat dictated from the start with a patient offense and a rock-solid defense. The Sailors scored twice in each of the first two periods and blew the game open with five in the third.
“For 80-85 percent of the game, we played with them,” O’Brien said. “They’re a helluva lacrosse team. When you have a couple of lapses, they will make you pay. That’s what good teams do. We’re not far off, though. I’m proud of the boys.”
Wharton ended up with the hat trick. Lance Ostrom and Kai Rogers scored twice. Grant McCannon and Coe Jackson also found the back of the net.
Battle Mountain did have sustained possessions in the Sailors’ end, but rarely any opportunities up close. The Sailors shut down any passes in front of the net and made the Huskies pay the price physically when they tried to weave in there.
Battle Mountain’s Josh Rosenbach scored twice for the Huskies in the fourth quarter.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Wharton said. “I’m a junior and that’s three years in a row, I feel like there’s an obligation to win the conference for the school, but this year it was more difficult because of better competition like Battle Mountain.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.