The Steamboat Springs boys soccer team is off to one of its best starts ever.
The team has an impressive 6-1 overall record, has collected a tournament title on the Front Range at Alexander Dawson and is ranked in the top 10 in both of Colorado's major newspapers.
But in the Western Slope Conference, those accomplishments mean little.
"It's so ironic," coach Rob Bohlmann said. "I don't look at the rankings that much, but last week we were in the top 10 of both polls and second in our own league."
Just how tough is the Western Slope?
Right now, Rifle (4-1), Steamboat (3-1) and Battle Mountain (3-1) are looking to gain an advantage in the standings.
In the past week, Steamboat hosted two teams -- Rifle and Glenwood -- that came to Steamboat with perfect league records and left with their first losses of the season.
Glenwood also would be tied for the lead in the league but was upset by Delta County on Saturday.
"The teams in the league are really balanced this year," Sailor Dusty Atkinson said. "It seems like any team can win in any game. Everybody is just that close."
In fact, Delta is just off the pace now at 3-2 with Glenwood (2-3) and Moffat County (2-4) still harboring hopes of winning the league title in 2003.
But Sailor Harry Packer thinks Steamboat, upset by Moffat County in the league opener before winning its past three games, could take control if things come together in the second round of league play.
"We still haven't clicked as a team," Packer said. "If that happens then those other teams will need to look out."
In the Sailors' first four games of the league season, two have been decided by one goal. That includes Steamboat's loss to Moffat County and last week's thrilling overtime win over Glenwood.
"The parity in our league is very high right now," Bohlmann said. "It just shows how important it is to come out and play every game and every goal."
Steamboat's next big test is tonight when Battle Mountain visits Dudley field. The game begins at 4 p.m.
For Steamboat, tonight's match is just the latest in a string of key league games. It also is one of the last times the team will have the home-field advantage this season.
"We want to go out and show the league that Steamboat deserves the top spot," Packer said. "We know we are one of the top teams in the league, now we need to go out and prove it."
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