Sailors' big test

Steamboat soccer has 2 games left on road to title

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With just two games left in the regular-season, Steamboat soccer coach Rob Bohlmann is trying not to worry about a league title that seems just out of the Sailors' reach.

"We are going into these final games with the mindset that we need to take care of ourselves," Bohlmann said. "A league title is still within the realm of possibility, but it's out of our control now."

Rifle improved its record to 10-1 Tuesday night with a 3-2 win over Moffat County. The Bears, who beat Steamboat last week, have the inside track on securing the league title this season.

The Sailors' last hope is that Delta County will pull off an upset by beating the Bears in Paonia on Thursday night. It's a long shot, but Bohlmann expects the Delta team to be hungry because its playoff hopes hinge on slipping past Battle Mountain in the final week.

"It's going to be interesting," Bohlmann said of the final week of league play. "A lot of things could still change."

The good news for the Sailors is that no matter what happens in the race for the league title, Steamboat already has secured a berth into the postseason -- most likely as the No. 2 seed from the Western Slope.

But that doesn't mean that the coach or his players are taking lightly the final two games against Battle Mountain today and Palisade on Friday.

"We need to win every game at this point of the season," Bohlmann said. "We are treating these last couple of games just like they are the playoffs."

While Rifle (10-1) and Steamboat (8-2) look to finish at the top of this year's standings, the third and final playoff berth is undetermined.

Battle Mountain holds a slight edge going into the final week with a 6-4 mark and two wins over Delta. The Huskies need to win one of their two remaining games to secure a spot in the postseason.

Delta's only chance at a playoff berth would require a win over Rifle today and two losses by Battle Mountain in the final stretch.

"I've got a very motivated group," Bohlmann said. "The last thing I would expect is for our guys to let down in this final stretch."

Steamboat will travel to Battle Mountain for what is expected to be the last big test of the regular season. The Sailors topped the Huskies in a 5-2 game in the team's first meeting of the season.

Bohlmann knows Battle Mountain will come out strong in this game but thinks his players will be focused on winning the game.

On Friday, the Sailors will play the final regular-season game of the year at 4 p.m. at Dudley Field against a struggling Palisade team. The Bulldogs have yet to win a game in league play.

The contest originally was scheduled for Saturday but was moved to Friday because of college entrance exams.

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209

or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com

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