Finishing strong

Down early, Sailors rally for 5-2 win over Battle Mountain

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— The members of the Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer team got a scare Thursday night, but kept their league title hopes alive with a come-from-behind win over Battle Mountain.

The 5-2 win improved the Sailors' mark to 6-1-1 this season. Thanks to some help from Rifle, who tied Glenwood Springs Thursday night, the Sailors now share the Western Slope Conference lead with the Demons. Rifle scored with six minutes remaining in Thursday's contest to escape with a 1-1 tie in the key league match-up with the Demons.

Here in Steamboat, Battle Mountain took an early lead when freshman Berkley Chipman beat goalkeeper Kelly Asbury for the first goal of the game less than four minutes into the contest.

"I think we learned that we need to be on our horse before the game starts," Steamboat's Lia Utu said.

"We just thought that we needed to show up if we wanted to win, so this was a tougher game than we expected," teammate Andrea Len added.

But Steamboat was quick to answer the Battle Mountain wake-up call. Just a couple of minutes later, Steamboat's Nikki Garth fired a hard shot past Huskies' keeper Caitlin Rapson. The ball bounced off the crossbar and back to the front of the net. Garth's teammate Tracy Lucas was finally able to put a foot on the bouncing ball in the middle of a pack of players. Her shot found the back of the net and the game was tied at one goal.

The Sailors maintained the pressure by keeping the ball deep in the Huskies' end for most of the first half. Steam-boat's shooters fired 12 shots on Rapson, but only recorded the lone score.

Meanwhile, the Huskies made the most of their limited opportunities. Chipman scored on the team's first shot of the game and Hillary Gallegos netted another Battle Mountain goal on the team's second shot midway through the half. The Huskies only had four shots on goal in the first 40 minutes.

"We knew we needed to win this game," Len said. "After they scored we really picked things up."

In the second, Steamboat continued to attack aggressively the only real difference is that the Sailors started to crack the Huskies defensive front.

Steamboat tied the game just minutes into the second half when Lia Utu fed Anya Allen the ball through the Battle Mountain box. Allen fired it home to tie the game at two.

"I don't think we really changed anything," Utu said. "We just tried to stop forcing things and we had more rhythm."

After the tying goal, the Sailors spent the next several minutes of the game pounding the Huskies' keeper. Seven shots later, Steamboat freshman Lindsay Ellis gave Steamboat the lead for good. Garth also recorded her second assist of the game.

Julie Wernig broke the game open after taking a nice crossing pass from Katie Liefer and beating a pair of Battle Mountain defenders. The Steamboat senior then found some open space and drove the point home to give her team a 4-2 lead. Liefer added some insurance midway through the half when she made a nice move to beat Rapson in front of the net and then scored the final goal of the game. Tara Wernig was credited with the assist.

"I think we finally settled down," Sailors had coach Rob Bohlmann said. "We stopped trying to force things and stopped playing panicked soccer."

The Sailors head coach also credited the Battle Mountain team after the game.

"For the first 30 minutes Battle Mountain's intensity was very strong," Bohlmann said. "They did a better job of getting to the ball than we did and our attack was easy to read."

In the second half, the Sailors did a better job of passing and spreading the ball around the field. The Huskies never really adjusted.

Bohlmann said his team had to work a little harder to defeat Battle Mountain than he had hoped. But he did get a chance to rest a few of his players late in the second half, which should help when the team takes on the No.2 ranked team in the state Broomfield at 3 p.m. today at Dudley Field.

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