Steamboat Springs Kyle Nelson won one for Steamboat's soccer guys and for the little guys.
With the score tied at zero in Thursday's soccer game against Moffat County, the roughly 5-foot-6 Nelson lined up to take a penalty kick against the Bulldogs tower in goal Brandon Duarte around the 22-minute mark of the second half.
At 6-foot-3, Duarte seems impossible to beat high, so Nelson went low to the left side as usual. Duarte did not, as the Sailors held on for the 1-0 victory to improve to 3-3 on the year and 1-0 in league play.
"I get better placement than power," Nelson said. "I always go low. It's a pass for me technically."
Nelson was issued the penalty kick after being tackled from behind by a Moffat County defender, as Nelson broke free toward the goal.
At the opposite end of the field, Steamboat goalie Kelly Carlson, who spent most of the game squeezing water out of his gloves between saves, said he felt relieved when he saw Nelson was taking a penalty shot. Nelson had made two previous kicks this season in the same situation.
The Sailors, favored to win the Western Slope title, were relieved to win Thursday afternoon's game as a team.
The wind, rain and wet grass did its share to even the playing field, but the series between the Sailors and the Bulldogs hasn't traditionally been a tossup. Last year, Steamboat won 8-2. This time around, Moffat County coach Mike Havrilla said his team made a statement.
"Steamboat is the flagship of our conference," Havrilla said. "We showed (Thursday) that we can compete with anybody in the conference."
Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann thought Steamboat showed it has work to do to meet its goals. The Sailors controlled the tempo of the game and handled the ball well overall, but the offense except for Nelson's penalty kick found everything but the back of the net.
"With the players we have right now, we're still searching for those players that have the mentality to finish on goal," Bohlmann said.
Defensively, the Sailors did a good job disrupting the Bulldogs' runs and covering players on the crossing passes, but the Bulldogs also misfired three times on an open net. The Bulldogs also failed to capitalize on three corners and two free kicks in the closing five minutes of Thursday's game.
A fact that did not escape Bohlmann.
"We were not very disciplined in what has to happen for us to maintain a one-goal lead," he said.
Carlson, who was forced to punch a high ball over the net and make a couple of late saves behind his wall, agreed with his coach.
"We'll take the win, but we need to improve a lot," Carlson said.