The Steamboat Springs and Eagle Valley soccer teams have struggled this season.
The first time the teams met, they played to a 0-0 tie, and the Sailors played most of that game down one player because of a penalty.
On Thursday, things went a little differently in Eagle Valley's 5-4 win. It was the first time all year the Sailors had scored four goals. It was one of the few times the Devils capitalized on strong second-half play to win a game.
"We've been fighting to win games," Eagle Valley coach Chad Sloniker said.
After winning the first game of the season 9-2, the Devils have gone stretches without scoring. On Thursday, Eagle Valley used a second-half surge to leave Dudley Field victorious.
"Steamboat is well coached," said Sloniker, who promoted several junior varsity players to send a message to other varsity players. "I think we have more skill, but they are more disciplined."
The Devils also have more height and speed, and they used every bit of it in the one-goal win. After Steamboat junior Miguel Lomeli, who missed the first half because of a test, scored the go-ahead goal eight minutes into the second half, the Sailors appeared ready to win their second game of the season.
But Devil senior Mike Smith got behind the defense and knocked a ball past Sailors goalie Bjorn Lickteig, who was back for the second half after missing six games because of an ankle injury.
Eagle Valley added two more goals in the waning minutes of the game. Senior John Gabriel put his team ahead, 4-3, on a nice lob pass from senior Wes Minett with five minutes left. Junior Matt Barker added what originally was an insurance goal minutes later on a centering pass from Minett.
It proved to be the game-winner, however, when Lomeli kicked a line drive shot in from 30 yards out, ending the game at 5-4.
"It was the first time we've scored four goals in a game, so that's good," Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. "We created the opportunities to poke in more. It comes down to efficiency in the penalty area."
Both the Devils and Sailors had ample chances to score in the first half.
Eagle Valley went up first on Smith's first goal 15 minutes in. Sloniker said the pop-fly like kick from the sideline wasn't intended to be a shot. Steamboat back-up goalie Elliot Girard, who played the first half, said it wasn't a goal.
With the best vantage point on the field, Girard said the shot literally landed on top of the net and fell through a hole in the top and into the goal. The same scenario likely would never happen again even if Smith launched the shot 50 times.
The goal was allowed because none of the officials were in a vantage point to disallow it.
The Devils added their second goal on senior Jamie Fernandez's shot 30 minutes in.
Steamboat senior Chris Troeger pulled Steamboat to within one five minutes later and tied things up right before the half on a corner pass from junior Nick Jenny.
"It was a great corner kick from Nick," Troeger said. "I just focused on getting a body part on it. ... When you are down early in the half, you have to find the spark."
Up next for Steamboat (1-8-1 overall, 1-5-1 in league play) is an 11 a.m. game Saturday against Battle Mountain in Minturn.
"All our league games except one have been within a goal," Bohlmann said. "We've got to continue to play ... for the present and the future."