Aspen High boys lacrosse falls short to Steamboat Springs in home opener

Aspen High School boys lacrosse hosts Steamboat Springs on Friday, May 7, 2021, on the AHS turf. The Sailors won, 12-9. Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

Normally one of Aspen High School’s deepest teams from year to year, AHS boys lacrosse is dealing with something it hasn’t had to in recent memory. With smaller numbers and many players currently out because of injury, filling out those second and third lines has become a challenge.

This has been evident in Aspen’s 0-2 start to the season, including Friday night’s 12-9 loss to visiting Steamboat Springs in the home opener on the AHS turf.

“We are just blessed to be on the field right now. Two years and COVID really made you appreciate how lucky we are to play at a field like this,” Aspen coach Tommy Cox said. “It’s no secret — we have a small roster without much depth due to injury. But I’m really proud of the boys who have been stepping up and we have a young team right now. We look forward to getting the guys back, but I’m really, really proud of the way the boys are playing.”

Gallery caption: Photos: AHS boys lacrosse vs Steamboat Springs

There hasn’t been a high school lacrosse season since 2019 after the spring 2020 season was canceled following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. Nearly two years in the making, the Skiers opened the 2021 season on Wednesday with an 8-6 loss at Eagle Valley, playing without five starters.

Then came Friday’s game against Steamboat, which traditionally provides some of the most intense competition of the season when the teams meet. Also 0-1 entering the game after a loss to Vail Mountain, the Sailors led 6-3 at halftime and held off a moderate charge by the Skiers in the fourth quarter.

“I’m super proud of these boys. They never, ever stop. They never give up. They never stop pushing,” Cox said, making note of their 19-player roster for Friday’s game. “I’m so proud of this young team and I can’t wait to see them develop this season and for the next couple of years.”

Steamboat, now 1-1, entered the season ranked No. 9 in Class 4A. Aspen (0-2) was preseason No. 11 in the poll, which ranked the top 12.

The Skiers are off until next Friday when they play at Vail Mountain. With a quick, shortened season still in front of the team, Cox is simply hoping to see the young group come together and find its potential.

“I’m looking for unity,” Cox said. “We’ve had success in the past where we’ve played together as a unit, and where we struggle is playing as individuals. Our team is doing an excellent job of bringing the effort and bringing intensity, and when we play together we are unstoppable.”