Sailors sink Huskies; rise to No. 1

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— It might have been the biggest game of the season, but Steamboat Springs goalkeeper Andrew Litzau wasn't going to speculate.

"It was a big one that's for sure but I don't know if it was our biggest," Litzau said of Steamboat's 5-2 win over Battle Mountain Saturday at Dudley Field.

The win gave the Sailors sole possesion of first place in the conference, but for a team with state title dreams, the game was just a start. The Steamboat Sailors are now 8-2-1 on the season overall and 5-1 in conference. Battle Mountain, the team that shared the Western Slope Conference lead with the Sailors until Saturday's game, slipped back into the mix at 4-2.

"Sure it was a big win," Sailors assistant coach Chris Kerlin said. "We are in first place now."

The Sailors return to first place, came a little more that a week after the squad fell to Glenwood Springs in a very dissapointing 2-1 loss.

"There is definitely some pressure for us to keep on winning," Litzau said. "Especially after we lost to Glenwood."

Steamboat took the early lead in Saturday's contest after Andrew Johnston headed a ball past the Battle Mountain goalkeeper about 15 minutes into game. Kyle Nelson was credited with the assist as Steamboat took a 1-0 lead.

The Huskies rebounded about 25 minutes into the contest, however, with their first goal of the contest.

The two teams looked like they would head into the halftime break tied, but Silas Cammer's goal with less than 5 minutes left in the half gave Steamboat a 2-1 advantage.

Steamboat built on the lead 12 minutes into the second half. This time, Jason Flower powered the ball into the back of the net after getting a helping hand from teammate Mike Rinn. But Steamboat was unable to break the game open as Battle Mountain responded 2 minutes later with another goal.

The Sailors put the game away with two unanswered goals by Cammer and Rinn that gave the local team all the room the squad team needed to collect its third-straight win in a week.

Litzau finished the game with 10 saves and Nelson chalked up two assists in the game. He now leads the team in assists with seven on the season. Rinn leads the team in scored with 16 goals making him one of the top 4A scorers in the state.

Kerlin said he was happy to see the offense come to life in the last two games the Sailors inability to put the ball in the back of the net contributed to the team's loss to Glenwood Springs last week.

Kerlin said he thinks the Sailors have put their scoring problems behind them. He added that in the last three games the Sailors have netted 17 goals.

Litzau was even happier to see Steamboat's defense remain solid in the Battle Mountain game.

"We've got the best defense in the conference without a doubt," Litzau said. "If we can keep the other teams from scoring, then I know the offense will come in and do the job."

Steamboat will have a chance to avenge the loss to Glenwood Springs Thursday when the Demons come to town.

The game is scheduled to take place at Dudley Field at 4 p.m. The junior varsity will follow at 6 p.m.

Steamboat's junior varsity squad also played Battle Mountain on Saturday in a game that ended in a 3-3 tie. Steamboat took an early 2-0 lead behind two goals from Justin John. The Huskies battled back and took a 3-2 lead midway through the second half.

Gunnar Sorenson turned out to be the hero for the local boys, however. His goal with less than 7 minutes remaining tied the game at three goals apiece. That's how the contest would end. Derek Lewis has three assists in the contest.

The Sailors junior varsity squad is now 6-1-1 for the season. Steamboat's "C" team played down a player and lost 1-0.

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

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