Girls relaxed as key regional playoff game quickly approaches

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— As the members of the Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer team calmly approach an all-important playoff game later this week, a new battle cry that brings back some bitter memories is being heard on the practice field.

"We have a lot of tough teams coming up," Sailor Jill Wernig said. "But, you know, we just keep reminding one another with the words ThunderRidge, ThunderRidge. Because that is the team we lost to bad last year."

It was a relaxed Sailors squad that returned from spring break and posted an 11-0 win over Skyview April 29 at Dudley Field in Steamboat .

"I think we are in good shape right now," Sailors head coach Jim Dudley said. "I was very happy with the intensity level of this game. I think we did a great job passing the ball and controlling the pace of the game."

It was the type of game the Sailors coach thought the team needed. Most of his top players have already put on their game faces for the upcoming regional playoff game which will be played this Saturday against the top seed from the Southwestern Conference. Steamboat had one final non-league contest on Tuesday against top-rated Grandview. The contest was a make-up for a game that was snowed out earlier this year. Results were unavailable at press time.

Steamboat is one of only 32 girls teams in the 4A division that will still be playing soccer this Saturday. The number of teams in the division will continue to dwindle as the state championship game, scheduled for May 23, gets closer.

"I think we are a lot more relaxed (than some of the other times we have gone to the playoffs) and we are just waiting to see who we are going to play," Wernig said. "When it comes time for that hard game that we know we have to win, everyone is going to be pumped up."

Steamboat's game against Skyview wasn't quite up to that playoff caliber.

Steamboat netted seven goals in the first half to put the game on ice. The Sailors added four more in the second half, before moving to a passing game designed to kill time.

Jill Wernig scored five goals in the game. Jessica Fritz and Liz Masterson both added two. Nikki Garth and Andryn Arithson also scored in the game. Crissy Lawton, Jessica Johnson and Anya Allen all had assists.

Steamboat goalie Shannon Hurley was perfect as she recorded the shutout.

The Steamboat defense which was anchored by Maggie McElhinney, Lilia Utu and Abby Fritz was strong once again. The Sailors defense only gave up two goals in conference play this season as Steamboat finished in second place with a 4-1-1 record. Rifle won the conference at 4-0-2.

Glenwood was third and Moffat County was fourth. Rifle, the top seed in the Western Slope Conference, will host the No. 2 seed from the Southwestern Conference this weekend in Rifle.

To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail jrussell@amigo.net

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