Sailors’ shots successful

Steamboat peppers GJ net in lacrosse win

Grand Junction’s Marques Combs loses the ball Friday night after being checked by Steamboat Springs’ Trent Trask in the Sailors’ 10-1 victory at Walker Field. Steamboat Springs’ ability to string together crisp passes led to numerous shot opportunities in the victory.

The most telling statistic in the Grand Junction High School boys lacrosse team’s 10-1 loss Friday night to Steamboat Springs was the first-quarter shot totals.

The Sailors (10-0, 6-0 Mountain League), one of two undefeated teams remaining in the state, racked up 23 shots. Conversely, Grand Junction (4-3, 3-2 ML) took only four shots in the first quarter.

Although Steamboat Springs occasionally ripped long shots, the majority of its chances came on shots near the crease. The Sailors forced their way toward the crease with quick, short passes and tight, sharp cuts.

In addition to the passing clinic, Steamboat Springs dominated possession.

“They absolutely beat us on ball control,” Grand Junction coach James States said. “That’s something that we always strive to do well. That’s obviously a good team when they can control the ball like that. We had one good offensive chance in that first quarter. That was it.”

The Tigers fell behind early despite a slow start from both teams. It wasn’t until Peter White scored with 5:02 left in the first quarter that either team found the net. But once the Sailors drew blood, they started peppering the Grand Junction net.

Drew Williamson powered his way to the crease to give the Sailors a 2-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. From there, the Sailors went on a 7-0 run before Charlie Ruckman put Grand Junction on the board.

States said passing and catching were the biggest problems for Grand Junction.

“You know, we fell behind and the offense went into ‘have to score mode’ again,” States said. “We tried to pull them out of that mode and couldn’t do it until the third quarter.

“They were pressing. We weren’t clearing the ball. We definitely didn’t clear like we normally do.

“Steamboat definitely put on a tighter ride than we’re used to. When that happens, our players’ first instinct is to throw it across the field. So, yeah, the passing definitely hurt us quite a bit.”

On Ruckman’s goal, the Tigers mirrored Steamboat Springs. Precise perimeter passing set up a seam for Ruckman, who powered his way to the net before finishing with a sidearm flick. Grand Junction nearly scored less than five minutes later, but a penalty negated the goal.

The Tigers put nine shots on goal in the second half, compared to five in the first half. Grand Junction seemed more comfortable with the Sailors’ high-pressure defense and did a better job extending offensive possessions.

The Sailors outshot the Tigers 37-27, but Grand Junction created more opportunities by carrying the ball to the middle of the field. Steamboat Springs’ penalties also opened up the field for Grand Junction, with the Sailors picking up five penalties in the second half, totaling 5 minutes, 30 seconds.

Defensively, the Tigers were anchored by Jacob Hart. Despite facing an offensive onslaught, Hart made eight saves in three quarters of work.

For Steamboat Springs, Ben Wharton led all scorers with five goals. White and Williamson added two goals apiece.

The Sailors have won 12 straight league games.

Battle Mountain 16, Fruita Monument 3: The Wildcats dropped their second straight game, falling to Battle Mountain in an Mountain League match in Edwards. Fruita returns home for a game at 3 p.m. today against Steamboat Springs at Stocker Stadium.


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