Greeley For the first 28 minutes of Friday night's state playoff soccer game against Greeley Central, things went according to plan for Steamboat Springs coach Rob Bohlmann.
But then a through ball fell behind the Sailors' defense, the race began and the conservative game plan went out the window.
The Wildcats' speedy forward Crofton Sacco would win the race to the ball, forcing Steamboat goalkeeper Kelly Carlson to try a diving save way outside of the box.
Carlson's desperate move postponed the inevitable momentarily as he pushed the ball to the side.
But the charging Sacco simply changed direction, recovered the ball on the left side of the field and fired a long shot into the middle of a wide-open net. The goal was the first of five in the Wildcats' 5-0 win over Steamboat.
"It was just one of those things," Steamboat defender Gunnar Sorensen said. "It was completely unlucky for us. It was a lucky bounce for them and they took it down. But that wasn't the turning point."
It may not have been the turning point on the field, but the first-half goal would give Greeley Central the edge they needed to win the game. "We knew tonight that if we could score first we would probably win," Greeley Central coach Ian Wale said. "We are a very difficult team to score against, so once we got the goal I knew the pressure was on them."
Wale said Steamboat did a good job of keeping the Greeley Central offense in check for most of the first half. But once his team got the first goal, he felt confident that his team had put Steamboat in a difficult position.
When Noah Leners kicked a rebound past Carlson with 9:20 left to play to give the home team a 2-0 advantage, Wales knew the Sailors were going to have to change the game plan.
"We had to push numbers forward in the second half," Bohlmann said. "We had to play more in our attacking half to try to create something to go to goal. It was tough, the boys worked their tails off and tried to get it done, but that was a very athletic group both defensively and in their attack.
"We were just a bit outmatched tonight. They deserved to win."
The game got out of hand in the second half.
Greeley Central's Leners scored his second goal of the game with 38:13 left to play.
Then midfielder Lugo Delatorre put the game away with two second-half penalty kicks. After the game, Wale said the difference in the size definitely played a role in his team's success.
"You have to give them credit because they did a good job in holding us back for a while," Wale said. "It's a tough deal when you have a small squad, because I have a big squad. It enables me to throw players on the field until I find something that works. I think that was the difference.
"They played very well," he said. "But due to their squad size and our squad size, we had fresh legs coming on in important areas, and finally we found our break through and that was the difference."