Steamboat pumped for Battle Mountain

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— The Steamboat Springs soccer team looks to unleash its scoring attack against Battle Mountain on Thursday when the team travels to Avon with the conference title at stake.

The Sailors, 7-1 and 10-2-1, square off against the Huskies at 7 p.m. in a matchup that pairs two 4A powerhouses in a classic showdown.

Led by junior Mike Rinn, No. 7 Steamboat enters the contest as the No. 1 team in the conference. The Sailors defeated the Huskies 5-2 at home on Sept. 30.

Battle Mountain, 5-2 and 9-3, plans to sink Steamboat's gameplan with a high-scoring offense of its own.

The Huskies come off a recent victory over the Bulldogs of Moffat County in a match where Battle Mountain cruised for 13 goals in Craig.

Rinn, who had six goals against Moffat County earlier this season in two matches, said the Huskies' big win over the Bulldogs may be a lot of hype.

"We whooped them last time," Rinn said. "It's going to be at their place now, and we want to embarrass them in front of their home crowd."

Rinn, the Sailors' go-to guy all season, enters the match with 19 goals on the year.

In the Sailors' 5-2 victory over the Huskies, Rinn connected on a goal in the second half.

Jason Flower also has played well for Steamboat with an impressive eight-goal performance this season. Flower sparked the team's 4-2 win over Palisade Saturday when he scored Steamboat's first goal of the match.

The Huskies need to recognize whom they must face on Thursday, Flower said.

"They can expect us to be pretty pumped up and excited, because if we win this, we're definitely going to be in first," Flower said. "We're definitely going to be playing with some intensity."

Against Palisade, Steamboat had key performances from Mike Holland, J.J. Simon, Rob Zehner and Andrew Johnston.

Sailors assistant coach Chris Kerlin described the game as "scrappy" but was pleased with the result, he said.

Kerlin knows his team cannot overlook the importance of its upcoming match. The Huskies and Sailors were tied for first in the division before Steamboat defeated Battle Mountain Sept. 30.

"We can definitely put some distance between ourselves if we can pull off the victory down there," Kerlin said. "Hopefully, we can get back on track with some high-quality soccer and play more like Steamboat soccer."

The Sailors have two games remaining on their regular-season schedule, including the game against the Huskies and an away match vs. Rifle at 11 a.m. Saturday. Regional playoffs are set for Oct. 19 to 21.

Andrew Litzau, who made 10 saves during the Palisade match, said his team will be fired up for the highly ranked Huskies.

"I think that our game on Thursday is probably going to be the toughest one all season because we're playing Battle Mountain under the lights in their stadium," Litzau said. "It's going to be a big game for us."

To reach Eric Rineer call 871-4229 or e-mail erineer@amigo.net

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