Home not so sweet for Sailors as soccer season ends

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Aubrey Sacco allowed Kelly Labor to breathe, but not much else.

Sacco's only job, as one of Greeley Central's feistiest defenders, was to make sure Labor, Steamboat's top scorer, had limited ball touches and ever fewer shots on goal.

Sacco was praised for her efforts post-game, as the No. 12-seeded Wildcats upset the No. 5-seeded Sailors, 6-0, Friday at Dudley Field.

"I took away one of my best players to take away their best player," Greeley Central coach Ian Wale said. "All I have told the girls since we won our last game is how good Steamboat is and how well they are coached."

But the Wildcats weren't too shabby either. Led by Sacco's defense and senior Jessica Zimmerman's four goals and one assist, Greeley Central advances to the Class 4A quarterfinals.

"A 4 1/2 hour bus ride is not worth it if you don't win," Zimmerman said.

There were few surprises in Friday's game. Wale and Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann had accurate scouting reports and a good feel for the opposition.

"We knew they had one incredibly good girl and would try and play the ball to her most of the time," Steamboat senior Lindsay Ellis said.

That one girl was Zimmer--man, a tall, aggressive force up front for Greeley Central. She scored six minutes in, and the Wildcats never looked back, netting four goals in the first half and adding two in the second.

Steamboat is a possession-oriented team. It forms an attack in the back or at midfield before advancing.

Greeley Central took away the midfield Friday, passing from the top of the box on one side to the top of the box on the other. Every time the Sailors didn't recover on defense, the Wildcats scored.

"It came down to our efficiency, or lack thereof in the penalty areas both offensively and defensively," Bohlmann said.

Sacco scored Greeley Central's second goal off an assist from Brittani Knott. Abby Leichliter headed the Wildcats' third goal in off an assist from Zimmerman. Every bounce seemed to go Greeley Central's way, and it was about time, Sacco said.

"We've always had good teams," she said. "We've just been unlucky. Last year in the round of 16, we were up 3-0 and lost. We scored on our own team."

On Friday, Greeley Central handed Steamboat its first -- and final -- loss of the season, holding the Sailors scoreless. Steamboat hadn't been shut out since losing to Littleton last season.

Zimmerman added the final three goals for the Wildcats.

Steamboat had just five shots on goal to Greeley Central's 17.

The Sailors' season ends with a 16-1 record, and the Wildcats improved to 10-6-1 and will face the winner of a game between Cheyenne Mountain and Pueblo Centennial.

The Sailors welcome back all but four of their varsity players, though all four received significant playing time.

The graduating seniors are Ellis, a senior at Soroco, Nicole Balvanz, Jenna Conlin and Allison Lewis.

-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley call 871-4208 or e-mail mmawdsley@steamboatpilot.com

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