Eligibility question may cost the Sailors games, but not title

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For the seventh time in eight years, the Steamboat Springs soccer team clinched the league title as the team breezed past the Rifle Bears with a 2-0 win in its final regular-season game Oct. 14 at Rifle.

Steamboat, 12-2-1 and 9-1, is set to participate in the regional playoffs that are scheduled to run from Thursday to Saturday.

Steamboat, the No. 1 seed in its league, will face the fourth-place finisher in the 4A Skyline league at home. The Sailors find out today which team they must play.

Steamboat, which is two games ahead of Glenwood Springs in the 4A Western Slope conference, did not officially win the conference until its victory over Rifle.

That is because the team likely has to forfeit two matches this season because of a situation involving a player who might have been academically ineligible according to the Colorado High School Activities Association but not to Steamboat Springs' administration.

The player was granted a hardship waiver by CHSSA, but not before he participated in two games while ineligible. Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann expects to know today whether his team must forfeit the games.

The Sailors are still the conference winners if they are made to forfeit the games because of their win over Rifle.

Glenwood Springs, which is 7-3 in the conference, would lose the first-place tiebreaker to Steamboat, which also would be 7-3 in the case of the forfeits. The teams split their two-game series this year, but the Sailors would get the nod since they defeated the Demons by a larger margin.

Last year, Steamboat defeated Grand Junction Central in the regional match before falling to Dakota Ridge in the first round of the state playoffs.

This season, the more experienced Sailors are led by players Mike Rinn and Jason Flower. Rinn has 19 goals, followed by Flower, who has 10.

Against Rifle, Flower scored a goal and dished an assist to Jason Sirois. Flower's goal, which came in the second half, was on an assist from Silas Cammer.

Steamboat won the game despite playing without seven of its team members and three of its starters. The majority of the players missed the game due to injuries and SAT tests.

Bohlmann was encouraged at how his players fought through the turmoil at the end of the season, he said. He was also pleased with win over Rifle.

"We definitely had a lot of factors to overcome," Bohlmann said. "From that standpoint, the performance was not spectacular. But in the sense that we did get the win with everything we had against us, it was a great way to finish the season."

Steamboat rose to the occasion against Rifle, Sirois said.

"We knew what we had to do to take the league title, and we went out and did it," Sirois said. "It was a bit sloppy, but we got the job done."

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