Montrose It was a rough game. From the opening kick to the final blow. Literally.
"It feels like we are going into war," Jill Wernig of the Steamboat Springs Sailors said as the Montrose High color guard presented the colors at the game's start.
The Montrose Indian girls soccer team (6-7-2) topped the Sailors (9-5-1) in Thursday's regional soccer game in Montrose.
The already physical game escalated when the Indians took a 1-0 lead. The point came when Montrose's Kara Gallegos beat Steamboat goalkeeper Shannon Hurley on a penalty kick into the top left corner 28 minutes into the opening half.
The penalty kick was a result of Montrose pushing the ball into the box, and then having the Sailors Maggie McElhinney being called for a handball, on what the head official called an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.
McElhinney received a red card, and was ejected from the game, leaving the Sailors short handed for the remainder of the first half and the entire second half.
After Montrose took the 1-0 lead, the game turned even more physical when Sailor Nikki Garth received a yellow card just before the half, which ended with the Indians out front 1-0.
In the second half, the physical play continued, but Montrose held tight, sticking to a tough defense. Montrose goalkeeper Kati Eden made numerous sliding, jumping and bumping saves, preserving the shutout for herself and the Indians.
The Indians did receive two yellow cards in the final four minutes of the game, adding to the physical play, but Eden and the defense were just too much for the Sailors to overcome.
With less than a minute remaining in the game, Montrose nearly added to their lead, as Katie Sanchez broke open up the right side and prepared for a collision with Hurley. Hurley couldn't control the ball after the collision, and Indian Michelle Berry was alone at the far right corner of the net, but her shot was just wide, into the side of the net.
Hurley sent one last shot down the field as time ran out, but the game wasn't over. The Sailors' Jessica Johnson and Indian Whitney Tucker met with fists clenched, and each was given red cards after a quick spat.
Steamboat Springs coach Jim Dudley said the team wasn't down, but a long bus ride doesn't help.
"The team wasn't down. Long bus rides are hard on anybody, but they did a great job on the field," he said.
"We controlled the ball like we wanted to. It is just a matter of finishing the goals."
Dudley said he told the team that despite the loss, they are sitting in good shape for next year.
"They have the opportunity that very few teams have. We are graduating no seniors, so we have everybody back," he said. "We have the chance to make up for it next year."