Steamboat Springs Lacrosse can be a streaky game, and on Saturday, the Steamboat Springs High school boys lacrosse team had the last sustained streak playing at home against Aspen in the season opener.
Aspen didn’t need a streak to win, however. It only needed one last goal, and it got it with seven seconds remaining, giving the Skiers an 8-7 win in the ski town rivalry matchup.
“Great finish,” Aspen coach David Miller said. “That was a great finish to a hotly contested game.”
Aspen junior Reece Cohan scored the game-winning goal, but Aspen’s big streak really came in the third quarter, when it got four goals to blow open a game that was tied 3-3 at halftime.
Both teams had plenty of first-game-of-the-year mistakes, but the Skiers were at their sharpest in the third, dominating time of possession to get good, quality shots on goal and, often enough, by Sailors’ goalie Peter Wharton.
“I had to remind them there's a lot of time in variety lacrosse,” Steamboat coach Jay Lattimore said of his team. “We only have about four players with varsity experience, so when they were down with their backs against the wall, they needed a reminder.”
That message got through, and Steamboat bounced back in a big way in the fourth.
“It clicked with them all of the sudden,” Lattimore said.
The Sailors got two goals from Davis Petersen — he had four on the day — plus one from David LaPointe and, to tie things up, a goal from Colin Musselman.
Along the way, Wharton was rock-solid in net, grabbing three huge saves to keep momentum on Steamboat’s side.
The Sailors had a chance at one final goal, too. It got a turnover with 30 seconds remaining in the game, but couldn’t get a shot off against the Aspen defense and ended up giving possession.
Aspen did get the shot, a bouncing ball from Cohan that deflected off Wharton and into the net, giving the Skiers the lead and the game.
“It was our standard offense, moving it around,” Aspen coach David Miller said. “Reece Cohan was able to grab the ball in the middle and somehow get the shot. It deflected off the goalie and went in.”
The game didn’t have quite the gravity recent Steamboat-Aspen match ups have. The teams have figured in as two of the top three teams in the Mountain League standings in each of the past four years, the result of their game typically weighing heavily on the final standings.
This year, Steamboat, 0-1, and Aspen, 1-0, are in separate leagues, so Saturday’s result won’t factor in that way at all.
Still, it was a bitterly fought game, and the thrilling finish sent the Skiers rushing onto the field in celebration and the Sailors sulking, if only for a few moments, toward their sideline.
“We had the momentum for those last eight minutes,” Lattimore said, “but they got the last bounce, and the game went their way.”
Steamboat next plays Tuesday on the road at Glenwood Springs. Aspen plays Wednesday at home against Thompson Valley.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9