The Steamboat Springs boys soccer team picked up its first nonleague tournament championship in school history with a 3-1 win over Bullis High School of Maryland in the finals of the Alexander Dawson tournament Saturday.
Including this season, the Sailors have been playing in early season, nonleague tournaments for 11 years, but 2003 marked their first championship run.
Steamboat defeated Niwot, Kent Denver and Bullis to win the title, outscoring the competition nine to three.
The tournament title was bittersweet, however. In Friday's semifinal victory against Kent Denver, Steamboat senior Sean Carlson had to be taken to the hospital with what turned out to be internal bleeding and a ruptured spleen, coach Rob Bohlmann said.
The injury was season ending, and Bohlmann expects Carlson to remain hospitalized in Boulder for the next five to six days as the young man recovers.
The injury occurred when Carlson lan-ded awkwardly after he and a Kent Denver player went for a loose ball in the air, Bohlmann said.
Following Saturday's win, the trophy presentation spilled over from the soccer field to Boulder Community Hospital where the trophy was presented to Carlson by several of his teammates. It will remain with Carlson until he returns home.
Finding motivation against Bullis was easy Saturday. The Sailors were not only playing for their first early-season tournament title, the varsity players were playing for their teammate and friend.
"It's neat to see how close this team is," Bohlmann said. "Going into the finals there was no question we were going to the ICU with the trophy, and that's exactly what happened."
Aside from Carlson's injury, the three-day tournament went exactly as planned for the Sailors. With limited games to impress Front Range teams and officials, Steamboat needed to take advantage of its opportunities.
"This definitely was a great experience," Bohlmann said. "It was an absolute team effort from this group. Everybody is very excited. There is definitely something special about this group."
Bohlmann concedes, however, that opening the season 3-0 with three impressive victories only makes the Sailors a bigger target for league opponents. Already a favorite to win the Western Slope, Steamboat must find a way to maintain its edge for two more months.
"That's where we go from here," Bohlmann said.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208
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