Steamboat Springs The prospect of playing Glenwood Springs this Thursday already has Steamboat Springs goalkeeper Chris Gibson chomping at the bit.
"It should be a lot of fun," Gibson said. "I think it will be a good ball game."
It may also help the Sailors erase some of the sting of a controversial tie with the Rifle Bears this past Saturday. The Bears tied the game at three goals apiece with less than two minutes remaining, though knocking Gibson into the back of the net.
Steamboat's Kyle Nelson scored against Rifle after getting an assist from Roddy Beall and Todd Bell. Mike Rinn netted two unassisted goals in the game.
"We are supposed to forget about that game," Gibson said at Tuesday's practice. "But it makes this game with Glenwood that much more important."
Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann believes this Thursday's game with the Demons, which is scheduled to start at 4 p.m. at Dudley Field, could set the tone in the league this season.
"Glenwood is huge," Bohlmann said. "The last seven years or so we have dominated league play, but Glenwood has always had our number."
Bohlmann thinks winning the game at home could be an advantage the Sailors will need down the road. He doesn't want to be forced to win in Glenwood later this season in front of the Demons' supportive crowd.
"They play at night and it's always a hostile environment. It's a tough game for us ," Bohlmann said. "We need to win this game at home."
Glenwood is currently leading the Western Slope League with a 2-0 record. The Sailors are in second place at 1-0-1, tied with the Bears who are also 1-0-1.
"Glenwood is a big rival," Gibson said. "Everybody on our team wants to win this game and we think it will be key to our season."
The coaches and players said they are also excited to finally be playing at home. The Sailors opened the season last week with a road win over Moffat County. The Sailors then traveled to Rifle where they played to a tie with the Bears.
"That was just a classic high school soccer game," Bohlmann said of the contest with Rifle.
"We played well and they played well," he said. "It's just too bad the game had to end the way it did."
Bohlmann said that it was the most controversial goal he has seen in his 13 years as a coach.
Despite the disappointing outcome, Bohlmann said several players had big games including Nelson and Rinn.
The coach said Derrick Lewis had his biggest high school game ever.
Bohlmann was also pleased with the way Gibson played. The Sailors goalkeeper had 13 saves in the game.