Steamboat kicks into all-conference

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— In a season where the Sailors won a league title before reaching the state quarterfinals, six team members were recently awarded all-conference honors.

Nikki Garth, Cassidy Kurtz, Liz Masterson and Lia Utu were named to the first team, while teammates Julie Wernig and Jessica Fritz were given honorable mention recognition.

The Steamboat girls soccer team, which went 14-2-1, made it to the state quarterfinals after ending the regular season as the Class 4A Western Slope champs.

They were 10-0-0 in the league, outscoring their foes by a margin of 52-1.

The Sailors won two playoff games by a combined score of 9-0.

Utu, a junior defender, was named player of the year in the league.

She helped guide the Sailors to 12 shutout victories, including six in a row from March 27 to April 10. The Sailors then garnered five straight shutout wins from April 14 to May 11.

"The season was great," Utu said. "We came closer as a team and although we lost in a really tight game (in the playoffs), we had potential to go on to the finals."

Steamboat's state championship dreams were crushed by Broomfield.

The home team converted on a penalty shot in a sudden-death overtime shoot-out to steal a 1-0 victory away from the Sailors in the quarterfinals.

"I think we're really proud of it, even though we lost in a bad way," Masterson said. "Everyone on our team deserved to get all-conference."

Sailors coach Jim Dudley agreed with Masterson, stating that any of his 19 players were good enough to receive post-season recognition from the league.

The league, however, limits how many players from each high school can make all-conference, said Dudley, who recently announced that he is retiring.

"It's not fair to me to have to narrow it down to six kids because they all deserve it," Dudley said. "With the kind of domination we had in the league this year, they all deserved it."

Kurtz and Utu started on the defense, while Masterson, Garth, Wernig and Fritz accounted for a large portion of the 68 goals scored by the Sailors.

Fritz, a senior, made a memorable shot against Conifer in the first round of the state playoffs.

On a corner kick from the right sideline, she got just the right spin on the ball as it sailed high in the air and into the back of the net.

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