The Sailors girls soccer team hasn't lost a league game in two seasons and is gearing up to extend that streak.
The team will be the Western Slope League title favorite again this year, but going undefeated for a third straight spring is a tough task to ask.
Steamboat returns a core group from its championship team of last season, coach Rob Bohlmann said.
The Sailors will be potent offensively, with leading scorers Kelly Labor and Jessie Dover, both juniors, and senior Lindsay Ellis returning. It's the defense that the Sailors will need to bring together to ensure another successful season.
"That's the big unknown this year," Bohlmann said. "We have to rebuild our system from the back forward. That's where our work is, at least starting out the season."
Steamboat will be mixing a group of established veterans -- Labor, Dover, Ellis, Casey Garth, Ann Barney, Kirsten Ryan, Haley Gallagher, Allison Lewis, Jenna Conlin and Nicole Balvanz --with underclassmen who have little or no varsity experience.
The good news for the Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer program, however, is the numbers and talent among its younger players.
Most notable is sophomore goalkeeper Shannon King, who started playing soccer last year. She served as Ryan's backup last season and will again this year, but Bohlmann would like to use Ryan in other field positions as much as possible. King's progress may give Steamboat that chance.
"A good majority of them played club soccer this fall, and the fun part about that is they needed a couple members so they had a couple Battle Mountain players join us," Bohlmann said.
In all likelihood, Battle Moun--tain will be Steamboat's primary competition for the league crown. Last year, the Sailors routed the Huskies twice, but things may be more even this season, especially early on, while Steamboat searches for its defensive unit.
Steamboat plays Battle Mountain at 11 a.m. March 19 in Edwards.
Steamboat scrimmaged in Douglas County last weekend and opens the official season at 3 p.m. today against Moffat County at Woodbury Park in Craig. The junior varsity team plays at 4:30 p.m.
Last year, Steamboat outscored Moffat County 18-0 in their two games.