Sailors send Bulldogs scampering

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— One more win and they'll clinch the league title.

On Saturday, the Steamboat Sailors girls soccer team cemented itself one step closer to the league title by shutting out the Palisade Bulldogs, 5-0, at home.

The Sailors improved to 8-0 in the Western Slope League, which gives them an opportunity to close out the show against the Glenwood Springs Demons at home Tuesday.

"It's a big one," said Jessica Johnson, referring to Steamboat's upcoming game with Glenwood.

"One of our goals from the beginning of the season was to take it one game at a time. It's just one more step to getting into the state finals."

A win over the second-place Demons would seal the league championship for the Sailors, who have two league games remaining.

Glenwood, which lost to Rifle Saturday, has four league games remaining.

Glenwood is 4-2 in the Western Slope.

Against Palisade, Steamboat used a well-balanced attack to chalk up its 10th victory of the season.

The Sailors are now 10-1-1 overall.

The team got off to a slow start, but netted three goals in the final 10 minutes of the first half to crush the 'Dogs' hopes of a league upset.

The 'Dogs dropped to 0-4-1 in the league and 1-6-2 overall.

Lia Utu, one of the Sailors' defenders, was "ecstatic" about the team's shut-out victory, she said. It was the team's seventh shutout win in its past eight games.

Steamboat had a six-game shut-out streak snapped by Battle Mountain during a 5-1 victory Thursday.

"The goal last game was really disappointing," Utu said. "But to get another shutout was real exciting. We hope to have more shutouts in the future."

Nikki Garth got the first goal against Palisade at about the 30-minute mark on an assist from Liz Masterson. Garth made the goal from 15 yards out.

Masterson, who has been a scoring-machine lately, put in the next goal to give the Sailors a 2-0 lead. Masterson then dished an assist to Johnson with two minutes left in the half for the team's third goal.

Julie Wernig got on the board next at the 45-minute mark.

Wernig's kick was a high-sailor from about 20 yards out that went through the fingertips of 'Dogs goalkeeper Kacey Keenan.

Wernig's goal was unassisted.

Johnson wrapped up the scoring with a shot off the right corner of the goal post that deflected back into the net.

Despite the soaking-wet conditions, the Steamboat players controlled the ball well, coach Jim Dudley said.

"It was a crummy field," Dudley said. "But they moved it around well."

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