If there was any suspense heading into Tuesday afternoon's playoff game at Dudley Field, it was gone in the first few minutes.
Steamboat Springs' Kelly Labor made a strong pass in front of the goal, and Siara Atkinson fired it past Widefield goalkeeper Brittany Feilder.
It was just one goal, but backed by a relentless first-half attack by the Sailors offense, it was more than enough to set the tone for the Sailors 5-2 victory in the opening round of the state playoffs.
"I think that's when we realized that this game wasn't going to be as tough as we had anticipated," Steamboat junior Jessie Dover said. "We wanted to come out strong. This is the post-season, but we have no idea what to expect on the other side of the field, so we have to be prepared to play our best game."
In the opening minutes of Tuesday's contest, the Sailors did play well.
After Atkinson's goal, the Sailors continued to test the Widefield defense with several well-executed runs to the goal and several hard shots from just outside the goalkeeper's box.
Steamboat senior Lindsay Ellis, who didn't seem to be slowed by a broken toe on her right foot, sped through the Widefield defense creating a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper. She fired the shot to the back of the net to make the score 2-0.
Ellis also assisted Labor on Steamboat's next goal just a few minutes later. But, with the game in hand, Ellis left the game late to rest her injured foot.
Widefield scored late in the first half when midfielder Tawnya Studdard placed a shot from the far left side of the field past the outreached fingertips of Steamboat goalkeeper Kirsten Ryan.
But in the second half, Labor and Atkinson each added goals, putting the Sailors up 5-1 en route to closing the door on the visiting Gladiators.
Steamboat did give up one final goal when junior midfielder Tanya Erlich connected on a Brittany Mason corner kick.
"They are just a very good and skilled soccer team," Widefield coach Patrick Pickens said. "They have good up-field ball movement, and we couldn't keep up with their top players."
On the other side, Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann said he was happy his team got the win, but he still thinks the team can play better.
"This team has so much more, but we continue to play at the level of our competition," Bohlmann said.
The coach is expecting a much tougher second-round opponent Friday or Saturday, and he said the team will need to be focused for the entire 80 minutes if the 16-0 Sailors want to stay alive in the playoffs.
The Sailors will host the winner of Greeley Central-Conifer game, which finished Tuesday night after press time.
--To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org