Steamboat picks up pivotal win

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Saturday's victory against Lewis-Palmer was more than just another win for the Steamboat Springs girls soccer team.

The Sailors remained unbeaten with the 2-1 victory. More importantly, however, is the credibility the win brings Steamboat for postseason seedings, assuming the team continues its run through league play.

A one-goal victory against one of the state's largest schools -- and the team that knocked Steamboat out of the playoffs last year -- should do nothing but give the Sailors more confidence and a higher tournament seed. This season, Lewis-Palmer is in Class 5A, the highest classification in Colorado.

"We felt good about what we had done to this point in our season with regard to league play," Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. "This was a chance to measure ourselves and prove ourselves. It was a great day."

The addition of Eagle Valley to the Western Slope League this year meant Saturday's game against Lewis-Palmer was the only nonleague game of the year for the Sailors. It was played on a neutral site at Thunderridge High School, and Steamboat came away with an impressive win against a quality opponent.

"We could not have scripted the game any better," Bohlmann said. "As far as coming from behind to win, as far as it being an absolutely out-and-out group effort. Things are good in our camp."

In fact, there was only a two- or three-minute stretch in the second half when Steamboat didn't play with its trademark confidence.

After playing to a scoreless tie at the end of the first half, Lewis-Palmer struck first, from 30 yards out, 10 minutes into the second.

Bohlmann said the team's body language read disappointment but not for long. Within several minutes, the Sailors regained their composure and increased their level of play.

The game's turning point came several minutes after the Rangers' goal, when assistant coach Danny Tebbenkamp suggested moving junior Kelly Labor from central midfield to left midfield in an effort to isolate her with a Lewis-Palmer defender.

"It immediately resulted in big dividends," Bohlmann said. "Jenna Conlin, our right midfielder, beat a player and served the ball across the box beautifully to Kelly's crossfield run, and she volleyed it in."

With 20 minutes left in the game, Labor scored again, taking the ball on the left flank before beating her defender one on one.

"It was an absolutely fantastic goal," Bohlmann said. "She was shooting from a very sharp angle. Whatever opening there was, she struck it and struck it well."

Neither team scored again.

Steamboat's offense, defense and possession play at midfield was strong all afternoon.

"The key thing was playing composed," Bohlmann said.

Steamboat returns to action at 11 a.m. Saturday against Eagle Valley. The location of the game is still in question as both schools wait to see what the weather does along the Western Slope.

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