Steamboat Springs Mike Rinn's scoring heroics against Rifle High School on Tuesday were just what the Steamboat soccer team needed, as the Sailors edged out a feisty Bears squad 3-2 at Dudley Field.
With the Sailors ahead 3-0 late in the second half, the Bears' Martino Pedulla volleyed in a goal to tighten the the match to 3-1.
Moments later, Isaac Hostettler shocked the Sailors sideline when he followed Pedulla's goal with another score. Hostettler's shot sailed high, way out of reach of goalie Andrew Litzau. The score turned to 3-2 in about a 30-second span.
A stingy defense by the Sailors, however, preserved the win at the end of the match. Litzau finished the day with 13 saves, while his most important ones came with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Mike Rinn had a score in each half for the Sailors and nearly dumped in another goal at the end of the first half. Positioned near the left side of the Bears' goal post, Rinn belted a shot hard off his head that nearly sailed past the Rifle defense into the net.
Jason Sirois used some fancy footwork minutes later against a Bears defender to set up another near-goal close to the end of the half. The shot by Sirois was wide left, however, despite the great effort.
Kyle Nelson came up big for Steamboat, with two assists for the match, including one to Rinn and one to Jason Flower.
Rinn started the second half with a cross-field pass from Nelson, kicking the ball over the middle for a goal that made the score 3-0. Rifle then scored the final two goals of the match.
Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann was pleased with his team's ability to fight off a last-ditch effort by the Bears.
"That's the interesting thing about soccer," Bohlmann said. "The tide can turn very quickly. I mean, we absolutely dominated for 65 minutes. We possessed the ball, created opportunities to the goal, and they got a well-earned goal and got a lot of momentum."
Steamboat, 5-1-1, heads into a contest at Glenwood Springs on Thursday where the team will seek to improve its league record to 4-0. The Sailors' lone loss was a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Faith Christian High School during the Alexander Dawson tourney on Sept. 2.
Nelson was proud that his teammates could hold off a fired-up Rifle squad.
"I think the biggest thing was, after the first goal, the reason they got the second one was because we put our heads down and nobody really took charge to get them back up," Nelson said. "We got scared. We pulled it back in and we finished it off which is what we needed to do."
Sailors assistant coach John Cardillo was happy with his team's win despite the near collapse at the end.
"It was frustrating, but it's not uncommon," Cardillo said. "It's a natural part of the game. I mean, I think it was not a reflection of the way we were playing. It was just a reflection of minute little lapses when they scored."
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