Steamboat Springs The Steamboat Springs girls soccer team punched in for work Saturday at noon and punched out nearly two hours later, defeating Palisade, 8-1.
The Sailors have taken care of business since tying Battle Mountain on March 18. Saturday's win keeps Steamboat in the hunt for the Western Slope League championship with four games remaining, including Tuesday's game against Battle Mountain.
Steamboat has outscored its league opponents, 52-5, since losing the season-opener to Broomfield and tying Battle Mountain a month ago.
Other than the Huskies, no league team comes close to the Sailors' talent, so Steamboat has looked for internal challenges.
"We are doing pretty well," Sailors sophomore Miranda Schrock said. "On our attacking, we've been making sure we are all making runs. We've been working on those a lot."
The Sailors showcased their offensive balance in Saturday's wind and rain on a sloppy Christian Heritage field.
Five Steamboat players scored goals Saturday. Senior Ann Barney led the way with three goals. Senior Kelly Labor scored twice.
"We've been working on Ann holding the ball and recycling," Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. "Kelly draws a lot of attention, so she can recycle back, and there Ann is with space."
Barney has become an im--por--tant offensive threat for the Sail--ors, which will be important as Steamboat heads toward postseason play.
"Ann has cracked some nice shots this year," Bohlmann said. "She has been spending time on her own, working."
The Sailors wasted little time applying pressure to Palisade's defense and goalie Danielle Spiess, taking the first shot on goal 30 seconds into the first half.
Spiess made a great save, but the Sailors got on the board eight minutes later on a pass from Labor to Barney.
Barney connected with Carly Earp eight minutes later for Steamboat's second goal. The Sailors took several shots on goal before Earp found the back of the net. The Bulldogs struggled to keep the Sailors out of their offensive half for the entire first half.
Labor's first goal of the game came midway through the first half on an unassisted score from the right flank.
Labor scored Steamboat's fourth goal on an assist from goalie Kirsten Ryan, who boomed a kick from the penalty area over the mid-field, timing the ball with Labor's run toward the box.
"Our challenge has been to play consistently for the entire game," Bohlmann said. "We did that really well against Moffat County. We didn't do that against Rifle. All things considered, we were decent today."
The Sailors got two more goals before the end of the first, getting a score from Barney and one from Schrock.
Palisade scored 30 minutes into the game on a high line drive shot from Jena Bulla. It was the first goal the Sailors have surrendered since a 9-3 win at Delta on March 24.
Bohlmann switched his line--up in the second half, something he hasn't done much this season. "We've been trying not to break the rhythm up," he said. "Because of injuries and the weather, we mixed it up more than we usually do."
Casey Garth, who scored once in the second half, went down early with an injury, but she returned to the game. The status of junior Sisi Atkinson is in doubt. Atkinson, one of the Sailors' top scorers, collided with Spiess in the first half and had to be helped off the field.
Betty Sasak wrapped up Steam--boat's scoring, finding the back of the net right before the final whistle blew.
Steamboat (8-1-1 overall, 8-0-1 in league) hosts Battle Moun--tain at 4 p.m. Tuesday at the Christ--ian Heritage fields. The location of the game may change because of weather.
-- To reach Melinda Mawdsley, call 871-4208 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org