Englewood Andrew Johnston's goal midway through the overtime period of Friday night's state soccer playoff game sent an explosion of emotion across the Englewood Memorial soccer field.
Steamboat had just upset the No. 6 ranked team, the Conifer Lobos in the first round of the state playoffs by a score of 3-2.
The game-winning goal came off the foot of Johnston after a long flip throw-in by Mike Rinn. Steamboat had capitalized on Rinn's flip-style throw-ins twice in the game. In the flip-style, Rinn holds the ball in his hands, does a cart wheel and uses the momentum generated by the move to launch the ball much farther than a regular thrown-in.
"Mike called me over before the play and said 'I want you in there'," Johnston said. "I didn't even know who was around me. All I was focused on was the ball."
Johnston and another Sailor player had crashed in on the back side of the play. The ball floated past Conifer goalkeeper John Mackey and Johnston picked the ball out of the air and pounded it into the back of the net. All Mackey could do was fall to the ground in agony.
""I just threw it after the play had unfolded. I just threw it as far as I could and it worked out,"Rinn said of the play. "We don't work on it a lot in practice, but it's worked for us before."
The junior finished with one goal and two assists on the night. Johnston and Silas Cammer netted the other Steamboat goals in the see-saw battle.
"It was the type of game we expected," Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann said.
"Conifer is a very good team and they played well tonight."
Bohlmann said the Sailors, 12-2-1 (10-4-1 with two forfeits imposed by CHSAA), worked hard to create opportunities in the game and capitalized when they needed to.
The first goal, like the last one, was the result of Rinn's flip-style thrown in. The first time Rinn sent the ball into the goalkeeper's box. The ball bounced behind Mackey where Silas Cammer collected the loose ball and pounded it into the back of the net to give Steamboat a 1-0 advantage with 38 minutes, 28 seconds left in the first half.
Conifer, 13-2-1 answered less than three minutes later with a break-away goal by Russell Anderson.
Anderson stole a bouncing ball, broke past the Sailors defense and pushed the ball to the opposite corner of the net past a diving Andrew Litzau. The goal tied the game at one goal apiece with 35:37 left to play.
"Both of their goals were great," Litzau said. "I never even saw the ball on the second one."
Steamboat controlled the ball for the rest of the first half and had three more solid scoring opportunities, but could not get the ball past Mackey and a scrappy Conifer defense.
Steamboat will now advance to the state quarterfinals for the first time since 1996. That game will be played on Wednesday most likely at the same Englewood Memorial Field.
After the game, Bohlmann said he was not happy with the Sailors' No. 11 ranking in the state brackets and felt like it was a slap in the face after Steamboat had a strong season on the field.
He added that the Sailors celebrated the win last night and will scout a few of the other teams in the state at games scheduled for today. Bohlmann said Steamboat will face either No. 3 ranked Broomfield, 12-2-2, or No. 14 Widefield, 9-7-0, in the next round.
Bohlmann expects Broomfield to be the Sailors next opponent.