Steamboat Springs The members of the Sailors soccer team have spent the last year preparing for the start of the state playoffs.
They earned the right to play in them on Saturday, and it only took about 10 seconds for the local favorites to secure the goal they needed to advance into the first round. Mike Rinn took a pass from teammate Jason Flower and knocked the ball past Brighton goalkeeper Cody Brackelsberg even as some Steamboat fans were still making their way from the parking lot into Dudley Field.
"This is a special season for us," Sailors captain J.J. Simon said. "We've been preparing for this moment for more than a year, and we are very united as a team."
But even the fans who found their seats late Saturday were not disappointed. There was still plenty to cheer about in this game as Steamboat scored seven more times en route to an 8-0 win.
Rinn led the way with four goals in the first half alone. He spent the second half on the bench with most of the other Steamboat starters.
Brighton, on the other hand, didn't have a shot on goalkeeper Andrew Litzau in the first half. The Bulldogs couldn't put much more pressure on the Sailors' second-string goalkeeper Chris Gibson in the second half. Gibson only had to turn away three shots.
Sirios said Rinn's quick goal in the game helped the Sailors calm some pregame jitters. Sirios, who had three assists in the first half, said the Sailors just made some good scoring runs early in the game. He was able to pass the ball into the open space and his teammates were able to finish off the scoring runs with goals.
"We didn't know that much about this team," Sirios said. "Before the game I was a little nervous."
But Rinn's early goal helped the Sailors relax and get into a rhythm that resulted in several of the scores.
Simon agreed with his teammate about the quick start. But he was quick to add that Steamboat has been waiting for the game all season.
"This is what we have been playing for," Simon said. "We were really strong right from the beginning."
Sirios assisted Rinn on Steamboat's second goal of the game about five minutes into the contest and scored the Sailors' next goal six minutes later, making the score 3-0.
Ben Beall made the score 4-0 after getting a pass from Sirios 21 minutes into the game.
The highlight of the day came with five minutes left in the first half. Beall fired a long crossing pass across the middle from the left side. Rinn left his feet to meet the ball in mid-air and placed the shot into the back corner of the net with a scissors kick.
"It was great," Simon said of the goal. "It may have been the prettiest goal this season."
Rinn scored his final goal of the game three minutes later with an assist from Silas Cammer to make the score 6-0 at the end of the first half.
In the second, Steamboat turned down the jets by putting most of the starters, including Rinn, Simon, Sirios and Litzau, on the bench.
But it didn't put an end to the scoring.
Steamboat's Jonathan Olinger netted a goal in the 43rd minute of play on a nice solo effort in front of the net. Brackelsberg mishandled Olinger's original shot, but the senior followed it up and pushed the rebound into the back of the net.
Steamboat moved into a ball-control mode after the goal. But Zach Murphy made a nice run on the net 50 minutes into the game and scored Steamboat's final goal. He got an assist from John Hottenroth.
"This game really boosted our confidence," Simon said. "We've been ready for this game all season."
Steamboat is now in the top 16 teams in the state and will find out which team it will face later this week. Sailors head coach Rob Bohlmann said the seeding for the first round of the state playoffs will take place on Wednesday because some regional playoff games will not take place until Tuesday evening.
He said teams will be ranked based on records and the outcome of the regional playoffs. He wasn't sure if Steamboat, 8-3 for the season, will be at home or on the road for the game.
"It doesn't matter who we play," Simon said. "If it's a top seed, then we will just have to knock them out first."
To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail email@example.com