Steamboat Springs By the end of the week, the members of the Steamboat Springs High School boys soccer team should have a pretty good idea of where they stand in the Western Slope League.
Right now, the local squad (3-0-1) is in a battle to take control of the top spot with Rifle (2-0-1).
Battle Mountain picked up a league win last Saturday against Palisade, but is hoping to make a run as the team approaches midseason.
"This is a huge week," Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann said. "If we can get a positive result against Battle Mountain and another positive result against Rifle, we will be in pretty good shape headed into the second half."
But the coach said that he and his players are focusing on the next game and only the next game.
The next Steamboat foe will be Battle Mountain. That game is scheduled to take place tonight under the lights at the high school field starting at 6 p.m. It is the Sailors' 2001 homecoming game.
"Take it one game at a time that's kind of our motto this season," Sailors midfielder Zach Klohr said.
Right now, the Sailors are focused on the Huskies. Battle Mountain comes off a 6-1 win over Aspen last Tuesday and a 2-1 victory over Glenwood on Saturday.
"They are playing pretty good soccer right now," Bohlmann said. "I think this team could present a lot of challenges for us."
The biggest challenge may come in trying to slow down the Huskies' fast-moving offense, which is led by Scott Ligouri.
Battle Mountain has been playing a 3-3-4 setup that allows the team to move four offensive players into the attacking side of the field.
The team also uses a more traditional offensive attack that features two attacking forwards.
Bohlmann said most teams in the league only have two players assigned to the attacking half and disperse the rest of the team's forces pretty equally in the mid-field and defense.
"We may have to shift to a more direct attack," Bohlmann said. "We will just have to wait and see what they do at the start of the game."
Steamboat normally uses a more controlled offensive attack that begins with the defensive players who pass the ball to the midfielders. The midfielders then try to find a seam in order to set the forwards up for a scoring run. The offense favors short, quick passes.
But if Battle Mountain has four players in Steamboat's backfield, there will be less room to build this strategic attack using the defense.
Bohlmann said the Steamboat defense might have to use the long ball in an effort to catch Battle Mountain with too many players forward.
"If they play it that way it can really open some things up offensively for us in the midfield," Klohr said.
However, Bohlmann isn't sure which Battle Mountain attack will be used in tonight's game and he will have to ask his players to make the adjustments on the field once the game begins.
One thing is for sure, however the Sailors' defense will be forced to shut down several Huskies' threats, including the team's leading scorer, Ligouri. He has five goals and three assists on the season.
Other top players for the Huskies include Raul Chavaria, who has four goals, and Peter Brown who has netted three.
Bohlmann said his team will enter the game in good health and he thinks his players are excited about the chance to play under the lights.
And Klohr agrees.
"We are all pretty focused," Klohr said.
"Everybody is ready to play the game."