Steamboat Springs With only two games left in the season, it looks as if the race for the Western Slope soccer title will be a sprint to the finish line between the Sailors and the Demons.
"It's a good race for the championship," Glenwood coach Bob Guska said. "We are undefeated at home and we have the last two games at home hopefully we will come up with two wins and take either first or second."
Where Glenwood finishes the season will depend on how Steamboat Springs fares in its final two games of the season this week against Battle Mountain (4-3-1) and Palisade (1-6-1).
Thanks to Saturday's 3-2 win over Glenwood, the Sailors now hold a narrow half-game advantage over the Demons headed into the final week of the season.
"This was a huge win," Steamboat's Mike Holland said of Saturday's game. "We knew this was our time to redeem ourselves and get back to Steamboat Springs soccer."
While the Sailors did in fact redeem themselves, not everything ran smoothly Saturday.
Ten minutes into the first half, it looked as if the game and the league title was headed to Glenwood Springs.
"We were all over the place," Holland said. "We were not settled in, and things were not working."
The Demons took advantage of the somewhat disorganized Sailors attack to control the pace of the game. They cashed in when senior Ross Smith slipped past the Steamboat defense and scored a one-on-one goal against goalkeeper Kelly Carlson. Smith got an assist from teammate Joey Murray.
With Glenwood up 1-0, however, Steamboat started to settle down.
Steamboat finally broke through when junior Daniel Barney unleashed a hard shot on goal. Glenwood's Buster Bosna came up with a terrific save but was unable to collect the rebound.
Steamboat's Harry Packer moved the ball to the left side of the goal and fired a shot, which bounced off several Glenwood players and Steamboat's Alec Nelson into the net. The goal came with just more than two minutes left to play in the half and tied the game at one goal apiece.
"I kind of wish I would have been able to put that shot it," Barney said. "But it worked out well. The goal really helped us settle down when we needed it."
In the second half, Steamboat came out aggressively. Sailors assistant coach John Cardillo said the team made a few adjustments at the half, but that alone was not the difference in the game.
"We didn't make any personnel changes, but we did change our formation a little bit," Cardillo said. "We went back to our typical formation. It wasn't necessary to give us offense, but it was a move to make our guys feel more comfortable. It generated more offense, but that came from the players feeling more comfortable on the field."
Steamboat had several shots on goal in the opening minute of the half before J.J. Jenny put one past the Glenwood keeper to give the Sailors the lead. Dusty Atkinson, who had a solid second half, helped set up the goal with a nice crossing pass.
Steamboat added another goal about 10 minutes into the half when Barney slipped the ball forward to Holland. Holland then fired a hard shot that found the back of the net to give the Sailors a 3-1 lead.
Steamboat's defense stumbled a bit midway through the half, however.
A turnover on the Sailors' side of the field resulted in the Demons' Derek Weller's score with just more than 20 minutes left to play. Alex White got the credit for the assist.
But that would be the only goal Carlson would give up in the second half.
The Steamboat goalkeeper made four saves in the first half including a diving punch that kept Glenwood from going up 2-0 but only faced the one shot in the second.
Steamboat is now 6-2 in league play and 8-5 overall. Glenwood falls to 5-1-1 and is 8-3-1 overall. Steamboat's next game is Thursday at Battle Mountain.