In Europe, club soccer teams pay big bucks for reserves who can come in cold and score, especially with the game on the line.
Unfortunately for junior Allison Lewis, she lives in Steamboat Springs and receives no compensation for her play, but her goal counted for something as the Sailors came from behind to tie Grand Junction, 2-2, on Thursday.
Lewis, who didn't enter the game until the 30-minute mark of the second half, scored with less than five minutes left in regulation. Sophomore Kelly Labor angled her way around two defenders on the far sideline and delivered a pass toward Lewis and junior Lindsay Ellis in the box.
Tigers goalie Mallory Rodriquez came out to intercept the pass, but the ball -- and Lewis -- worked their way behind the goalie.
"I just threw my body at the ball," Lewis said, twisting to demonstrate how she scored.
Assistant coach Danny Tebbenkamp said there was no prophetic feel about when to insert Lewis, but the move worked out well for the Sailors on Thursday.
"She has so much energy," Tebbenkamp said. "It's a little different look for defenses."
Grand Junction came into Thursday's game undefeated at 7-0-1 and atop the 5A Southwestern League, so the tie should bode well for 4A Steamboat, should it make the postseason.
Tebbenkamp and Lewis each labeled the tie "bittersweet" because the Sailors aim to win each game, but both said the result is nothing to be upset about.
"We had no idea what Steamboat was like," Grand Junction coach Brad Cronk said. "They really played well. They are a team with a lot of characteristics we'd like to see."
Grand Junction pulled out to an early lead Thursday when freshman Katie Cupp got behind the defense and knocked the ball past Steamboat goalie Kirsten Ryan eight minutes in.
The Sailors didn't get on the board until the 37-minute mark when Labor bounced her way through the defense before firing a low roller past an outstretched Shannon Dick, the Tigers' first-half goalie.
Grand Junction netted the first goal of the second half off senior Lauren Sell's unstoppable rocket of a shot from 30-plus yards out, 13 minutes in.
The Sailors spent the next 20 minutes working to get shots and came up with several quality attempts, but they either went wide or high or Rodriguez was there for a save until Lewis evened the score in the final five minutes.
The teams played two scoreless overtimes, and the game ended in a tie just in time because it was becoming difficult to distinguish the Grand Junction players dressed in black from the darkness behind them.
With the tie, Steamboat moves to 5-1-1 this season and remains 5-0 in Western Slope League play. The Sailors return to league action at 11 a.m. Saturday when they are scheduled to host Moffat County at Dudley Field.
The Sailors won the first game, 10-0, in Craig in a blizzard. Conditions may be similar Saturday, and the time and location of the game is subject to change depending on the weather.
Either way, Tebbenkamp said, he is looking for Steamboat to build on the momentum it established with the come-from-behind tie on Thursday.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org