Steamboat Springs Brutal.
That's the one word Steamboat Springs soccer mom Sherry Holland chooses when she describe Friday's state playoff soccer game between Steamboat Springs and Greeley Central high schools.
"This is going to be a hard one on the family," Sherry said. "We know all the players and the coaches in Greeley, so we're going to feel a little torn this week."
Torn because her youngest son Mike, who plays for Steamboat Springs, is going to play in the game against Greeley Central the school her eldest son, Danny played for throughout his high school career. He graduated last spring, and now for Metro State.
"Danny was one of our best players," Central coach Ian Wale said. "He led on the field by example and was a big part of our soccer program for a number of years."
Greeley is where the Holland boys learned to play soccer growing up in the youth programs. Just when Danny and Mike reached the high school level, the family opted to move to Steamboat creating a split. Danny wanted to stay in Greeley and play for the team he had known his whole soccer life, but the rest of the family moved to Steamboat where they began planting new roots.
"We did a lot of traveling," Sherry said. "But Danny had grown up with that program, he really liked his coach and he wanted to keep playing for Central. So his father stayed, so that he could keep playing in Greeley."
Luckily, for the family the two brothers never met in a state playoff game. But things will not be that much easier when Mike goes up against his brother's alma mater this week.
"We still have a lot of friends there, and Mike will be playing against many of his friends," Sherry said.
Brutal might be the same word Sailor soccer coach Rob Bohlmann wants to use when he starts looking at ways to stop, or slow down, Greeley Central on the playing field.
Greeley Central will be one of the toughest teams the Sailors have faced this year featuring a dangerous mixture of both offensive and defensive talent.
Crofton Sacco leads the Wildcats on the offensive side of the ball. His 17 goals and eight assists ranks him fourth in the state in scoring and he is just one of the Greeley Central threats.
Brian Reckard, who has netted 12 goals on his own, and several other players with the ability to put the ball in the back of the net complement Sacco on the field.
In fact, Wale said that only one player on his team's current lineup has not scored a goal this season. He credits that to an aggressive attack for the strong offensive numbers, but admits that all starts with two speedy defense players Noah Leners and Chris Helwick.
"Having those guys back there allows us to push other players to the front," Wale said. "We can get more guys into the attack, because those two players stop just about everything.
"They can score from anywhere on the field," Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. "They attack in numbers and they attack as a group. It's not like we have the simple option of marking a single player. We have to do it collectively as a unit, if we want to shut them down."
But Wale admits that the Wildcats will not be at full strength this Friday when they take on the Sailors. He said that Helwick is currently listed as day-to-day and may be doubtful for Friday night's game.
He also views the Sailors as a dangerous team that could easily walk out of Greeley with an upset.
"They have some very good players in their lineup, and I'm expecting a very good game," Wale said.
The Steamboat seniors think the key to shutting Greeley Central down will be focusing on their own game and the things they can stop.
"We have to shut down the through ball and keep them from getting balls over the top," Steamboat defender Gunnar Sorenson said. "We have to prevent them from getting the kind of ball that can open up a game."
The contest with Greeley Central will take place at 7 p.m. Friday at the Northridge High School's District Stadium.
"We have to play it like it's our last game," senior Kyle Nelson said. "If we play it with everything we've got then when we walk off the field we will have no regrets. That's what is important, not having any regrets."
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