Thursday, October 17, 2002
Steamboat Springs The wait is over.
The members of the Steamboat Springs high school boys soccer team learned Thursday they will be facing Fort Lupton (5-4-1 in the Northern League this year) in a first-round playoff game scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at Dudley Field.
"I have no idea what to expect," Fort Lupton coach Jack Thorpe said. "But I know Rob Bohlmann, and I know his team will give us a great soccer game."
The Blue Devils coach said that while his team has not faced the Sailors this season, his players have been exposed to the Sailors coach and his style of play in the past.
"I have three players on my team who have taken part in his soccer academies," Thorpe said. "Two of them last summer."
Benny Vasquez and Ray Bocanegno both attended Bohlmann's summer camp in 2002. The Blue Devils' leading scorer, Isaac Sotello, took part in the local coach's camp two years ago.
Fort Lupton has had a taste of the Western Slope this season in games against Glenwood Springs and Moffat County.
The Blue Devils knocked off Western Slope champions Glenwood Springs (2-1) in a season-opening tournament in Glenwood. Fort Lupton also beat Moffat County (1-0) that same week.
"They rely on the fast break and feeding the ball to Isaac (Sotello)," Moffat County player Eric Havrilla said of Fort Lupton. "If Steamboat can shut him down and play a patient game which they normally do they should be OK in the game."
Both Steamboat and Fort Lupton played close games against Niwot. The Sailors came out on the wrong side of a 3-2 overtime game. The Blue Devils played the Cougars to a 0-0 tie.
The Blue Devils have several explosive offensive players, including Sotello and Daniel Salinas, but Thorpe admits his team is centered on defense and ball possession.
"We will continue to go all out on the attack when we get the chance," Bohlmann said. "But we don't want to take any unnecessary risks if we can help it."
Bohlmann said the key for his players will be to concentrate on the things they have control over like the transition game and getting back on defense. If the Sailors can do that, the coach expects the things they don't have control over to take care of themselves.
"Can we put the ball in the back of the net on every shot?" Bohlmann asked. "That's not realistic. But we can get back on defense every time and play a full 80 minutes of quality soccer. Those are the things that we can control and those are the things we will focus on this week."
Considering the Sailors' stingy defense and the record of Blue Devils goalkeeper Nick Delgado, who already has 182 saves this season and is one of the top-ranked goalkeepers in the state, this week's playoff game could swing on a single play or one defensive lapse.
Like the Sailors, the Blue Devils also have a tradition of making it to the state playoffs.
Fort Lupton has advanced to the playoffs the past three years, falling to Englewood 4-1 in its last playoff appearance.
Steamboat will be looking to overcome the disappointment of losing the Western Slope crown to Glenwood Springs last weekend. Steamboat topped Palisade in the final regular-season game to finish the season with the same 7-2-1 record as Glenwood. But the Demons were awarded the Western Slope title and the top seed, based on a tie-breaking measure.
Now that the Sailors know who their opponent is, the time to forget about the past and concentrate on the postseason has come. Bohlmann said he would make a few last-minute adjustments in practice this week and tell his players to focus on the game at hand.