Bulldogs to test new strategies

Steamboat hopes for good weather for today's game against Moffat County

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— A steady stream of snow Wednesday made Steamboat Springs soccer coach Jim Dudley a little unsure of what will happen today.

The Sailors are scheduled to play in Craig at 3:30 p.m. against the Bulldogs. But the day before the big game, Dudley still wasn't sure what to expect from the weather or from the team he will face.

"I think they are the best team we have coming up," Dudley said. "Every team we play is the best one coming up. We'll go into it with that attitude."

The coach said his experience has taught him not to take any team too lightly especially the ones that play in the Western Slope League. So despite the Bulldogs' mark of 1-14-1 last season and a loss to Grand Junction this spring, Dudley is expecting a hard-fought game at the Moffat County High School field.

"You know soccer is a game and if you get 11 players jazzed and hyped they can do anything," Dudley said. "I don't know that much about Moffat County this year because they haven't played that much. But they have a lot of young, talented players."

Bulldogs coach Eric Johnson agreed that his team hasn't had a lot of game experience this season and feels like his team is lagging behind the rest of the league because of the lack of playing time.

The coach said his plans to unveil a new formation, designed in part to trip up the Sailors, is slightly behind schedule because of recent cancellations.

"We've only been able to practice it twice," Johnson said. "But we are going to use it (today) anyway."

Johnson said the formation will concentrate on moving the ball to the midfield and limiting the other team's fast-moving players' chances of scoring.

"We have some very good players on this team, but we don't have a lot of speed," Johnson said. "We have to do something to counter the opposing team's speed." He was quick to add that Steamboat has a lot of speedy players on the field at most times.

The Bulldogs lost a tough 10-0 game to Grand Junction High School at the Colorado Springs tournament March 16. It was the only game out of three that were scheduled that the Bulldogs got to play before snow forced the tournament to be canceled.

Johnson said his players used the new formation for about half of the game.

Grand Junction, a school of about 1,600 students, is 3-1 this season with wins over Glenwood Springs (5-0), Moffat County (10-0) and Montezuma-Cortez (5-0).

The Bulldogs should challenge the Sailors' offensive attack today as seniors Jen Havrilla and Stacy Ponikvar anchor a solid defensive backfield. The Bulldogs are also strong between the pipes as sophomore Kelly Howle has earned respect across the state.

Steamboat, 3-1-1 this season, is once again considered one of the favorites to win the league. The team is coming off a 6-0 win over Glenwood on Tuesday and Dudley said the players have a lot of confidence headed into Craig.

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