After watching the 30 girls who showed up to play on this year's Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer team for the past three weeks, coach Rob Bohlmann is feeling pretty good about the upcoming season.
"The pulse is really strong," Bohlmann said. "We've been very, very competitive in scrimmages this season, and I have a pretty good feeling about this team."
The coach will discover whether his feelings are right today, when the Sailors' season begins at 4 p.m. against Palisade at Canyon View Field in Palisade. The team also is scheduled to play Delta at 3 p.m. Friday.
The coach's confidence in this year's team comes after watching his players face off against some of Colorado's top teams in preseason scrimmages.
Steamboat went head to head with squads from Douglas County, Dakota Ridge and Lewis Palmer in a series of scrimmages the first week of March. Last weekend, the team headed to Fort Collins to face teams from Mullen, Greeley West, Fort Collins and Poudre in the final warmup before the start of the regular season.
"We have always tried to schedule quality teams early in the season," Bohlmann said. "The idea is to get our teams as much experience as possible before the league season begins."
The Sailors, who won the Western Slope League title last year (12-0 conference, 12-3 overall) before losing in the first round of the state playoffs to Longmont, will have a different makeup when they take the field this year.
Gone are five seniors, Nikki Garth, Anya Allen, Abby Fritz, Tracy Lucas and Ashley Idzahl.
In their place is a small core of returning seniors, including Melissa White, Lisl Pearson and Sarah Pallotti, and a host of talented younger players.
Bohlmann is expecting the Sailors to contend for another league title in 2004 but knows Steamboat will have to prove its mettle against teams such as Glenwood, the team picked by the Denver papers to win the Western Slope title, as well as Rifle and Palisade.
"We are not ranked in the top 10 in the state right now, but we are in a good position," Bohlmann said.