Sailors' first-round playoff set for Friday


— After four days of not knowing when their next game would be, the Steamboat Sailors were given word Wednesday they will meet the Conifer Lobos in the first round of the state playoffs Friday.

"I think the kids are excited and ready to play, so the sooner the better," coach Jim Dudley said. "It will give them a Saturday off in Steamboat and they won't know how to deal with it. They'll love it."

Dudley's Sailors are on an 11-game winning streak and they enter the playoffs as the sixth seed.

The Sailors will play the Lobos at 5 p.m. Friday at Dudley Field.

Steamboat has the next best record in the 16-team bracket besides Niwot, which is a perfect 15-0-0 but seeded only fourth.

"I still think Mullen's the one to beat," Dudley said.

Mullen, the No. 1 seed, plays No. 16 Summit in the first round.

Mullen is 11-3-1 but has faced a considerably tougher schedule than Niwot, Dudley said.

The Sailors trounced the Fort Morgan Mustangs 6-0 in a regional playoff game at home Saturday, while the Lobos did some demolishing of their own.

Whitney Walker put together a hat trick to lead Conifer to a 7-0 victory over Englewood Friday.

"We're peaking now, which is nice because it's the end of the season," Lobos coach Jen Snowden said.

"This team plays with a lot of heart, a lot of desire," she said. "I'm excited to see the match against Steamboat. I think it will be a good game."

The Sailors are 13-1-1, while the Lobos enter the game 9-6-1.

The last time the two teams met was March 11 of last year at a tournament in Littleton. Steamboat beat Conifer in that game, 4-0.

Conifer is led by sweeper Amber Ayres, midfielder Britany Kraford and Walker, a forward.

Andrea Len, a junior forward, has guided Steamboat lately.

Len scored two goals against Fort Morgan and the only goal in a scrimmage against Broomfield April 28. Steamboat and Broomfield (No. 3 seed) tied 1-1.

If Steamboat and Broomfield win their first-round playoff matches, those two teams will find themselves in a rematch in the state quarterfinals. But the Sailors are thinking only about the Lobos for now, Len said.

"I think we're going to go into it mentally and physically strong," she said. "I don't think they'll be able to get past our defense."


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