Steamboat Springs Even Betsy Frick herself is a bit surprised.
After a 9-6 win Saturday at home against Durango, the Steamboat Springs High School girls lacrosse team improved to 5-0 on the season, this after it won only five games all season a year ago.
The current iteration of the program had only 13 wins in its entire five-year history before this season.
Frick, the Sailors’ coach, grinned widely and shook her head Saturday afternoon, considering it.
“We have 13 freshmen, 23 on the squad. It’s really hard to predict,” she said. “It’s an energetic bunch. It’s an athletic bunch, and they’re starting to play good lacrosse.”
The key hasn’t so much been anything Frick or anyone has done this year, rather work that’s been put in for several years by a handful of different people.
So far, it’s playing out marvelously for a team that didn’t come into the season with any kind of serious post-season aspirations.
Saturday, the Sailors jumped to a 3-1 lead early, then cruised late to the win.
“Our defense was definitely communicating a lot today and getting through to our middies,” said freshman Riley Schott, who scored four goals in the game. “Each zone of our team — defense, middie and attack — was working really well together.”
The program has had big freshmen classes before, but it hasn’t had any quite like this one. That’s not an accident. Many of this season’s freshmen first picked up the sport two years ago, just as a middle school girls lacrosse program got considerably more serious. It had previously consisted of a few local games and maybe a camp or two, but started to include travel for weekend tournaments out of town.
Basically, these girls know lacrosse, and they’ve been learning it for several seasons, a major departure from many of the players who have come into the Sailors’ program in the past five years.
Few of those freshmen embraced it quite as aggressively as Schott.
She’s a three-sport athlete, also playing volleyball and basketball. She used to play soccer, too, but said by seventh grade, she wasn’t in love and was open to exploring something else.
She found what she was looking for in lacrosse and dove in, so much so that, by the summer after her eighth-grade year, she was traveling to Denver twice weekly to play on a regional club team, then traveling the country for lacrosse showcases and camps.
“I’m gone the majority of my summer,” she said. “That was my first big summer with it. I just love it, and I knew I wanted to play in college.”
She’s currently traveling once per week, Sundays, to Denver for her club team, and even though she has three full years of high school left, she’s reached out to Division 1 NCAA lacrosse programs and contacted their coaching staffs to express interest.
Sophomore Lucy Shimek has attacked the sport with a similar ferocity and has similar Division 1 goals.
That dedication is plenty evident on the stat sheet. Together, Shimek, 26 goals on the season, and Schott, 27, account for 84 percent of the team’s total.
Frick said the team will need to establish more scoring threats if it's to maintain its winning ways. She wants every player on the offensive end to have the ability and opportunity to score.
Still, the squad’s reliance on its top two scorers isn’t indicative of a team that’s simply shallow. It’s actually deeper than it’s ever been.
Saturday, Steamboat suited up nine substitutes ready to play in the game, and all saw some time. Last year, the team had only two subs for some games.
The team’s athletes have proven plenty athletic, as well. Many have played other sports, giving them a big leg up.
“That helps with them knowing where they should be,” Frick said. “They learn from ice hockey and basketball and soccer, and it’s a huge advantage. Then, the lacrosse skills are coming."
The Sailors have a tough test next if they’re to continue their undefeated run. Aspen comes to Steamboat for a game at 4 p.m. Thursday at the high school.
The Skiers, 1-2 this season, have tormented the Sailors in the past, owning a 9-0 record in the past five years of the series. Aspen’s won those games with a combined score of 149-32.
But, Steamboat will head into the game with high hopes, and for the first time since 2013, when the teams played in the first game of the season, an undefeated record.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9