Soccer team has 'excellent' start of season

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— Coming off an early season tournament win, the Steamboat Springs girls soccer team travels southeast again Friday for another non-conference game that takes place in Boulder.

The Sailors competed in a tourney in Littleton over the weekend and won two of three games, including a 4-0 victory over Grand Junction Central.

Steamboat fought to a scoreless tie with Littleton but also downed Standley Lake, 2-1, en route to the tourney title.

Boulder, which competes in the 5A Centennial League, recently defeated Thomas Jefferson 4-0.

The Panthers, 1-2 as of Tuesday night, have six returning all-league players, including striker Brenna Hindman and goalkeeper Petra Kowalski who made the first team last year.

Boulder played Horizon Tuesday night.

Sailors coach Jim Dudley says he feels that his players have gotten off to an excellent start this season.

Last year, Steamboat dropped two of three games at the Littleton tourney, including matches against Littleton and Standley Lake. They started the 2000 season with a 2-3 record.

"They looked really good this weekend," Dudley said. "I was very pleased with everyone. They were very good, very fast and very physical."

Dudley says the game in Boulder will present a challenge to his team because it will be the first time this season the players will have competed on natural grass.

The games in Littleton were played on artificial turf.

The Sailors, who are ranked No. 9 in the state 4A Class by the Rocky Mountain News, have four of the top players in the state.

Jessica Fritz, Nikki Garth and Julie Wernig are listed as three of the top midfielders in the 4A Class and Lia Utu is one of the top defenders.

Sailors who scored goals in the Littleton tourney were Bernadette Norman, Liz Masterson, Tracy Lucas, Andrea Len, Utu and Fritz.

Pete Carnes, who coaches the Boulder team, said he anticipates a tough match against the Sailors.

Though Carnes coaches the bigger school, the Sailors are capable of knocking off just about any 5A team, he said.

"A 3A team (Alexander Dawson) beat us 1-0 the other day," Carnes said. "I think the top teams from 3A and 4A can challenge the 5A teams."

Boulder finished third in the Centennial League the past two years and lost to Arapahoe both years in the first round of the playoffs.

Last season, Steamboat fell to Montrose in the first round of the playoffs.

Boulder was defeated by Alexander Dawson and Columbine this season.

Boulder fell to Columbine, 1-0.

"We almost got out of there with a 0-0 tie," Carnes said. " But they scored on a deflection off of our sweeper's butt in the last two minutes. She never saw it coming."

Steamboat, which has two victories, no defeats and one tie this season, opens league play against Glenwood Springs March 27 at Glenwood. Friday's game against Boulder starts at 4 p.m.

The junior varsity match gets under way at 6 p.m.

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