Steamboat Springs In the final home appearance of their high school soccer careers, the seniors on Steamboat Springs roster filled their half of the field, all eleven players starting in Friday night's game against Palisade.
"It was good to all come out together," Nick Labor said, recalling with David Comeau the core group of their senior class that has played together since their days as 10-year-olds on the Steamboat Bombers.
Palisade could not boast the same claims. Coach Drake Jandreau bemoaned the fact that his team, 1-9 in league and 3-10 overall, only had a handful of players with previous competitive playing experience.
Able to exploit their ability to play together, the Sailors wasted no time controlling the ball, moving it into the offensive half to create scoring opportunities. But from a Max Hamil direct kick to a tight Comeau shot off a Steamboat corner kick, Bulldogs goalie Sergio Galindo was in position for every Steamboat shot, tallying eight saves in the first half.
"Their goalkeeper played well, but we were certainly making him look good," Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann said about his team's struggles to finish their shots. "We need to go to goal with a purpose."
With 20 minutes left in the first half, Miguel Lomeli was tripped up, giving Comeau a chance to capitalize on a direct kick from 25 yards out. Comeau put his shot on a line, past both the Bulldogs' wall and Galindo's hands to put Steamboat up, 1-0.
Palisade answered with its best scoring chance of the evening, as Jarren Pope slipped by the Steamboat defense. Sailors' keeper Bjorn Lickteig came out to make a sliding save.
"I was proud of how hard our guys worked to keep it at 1-0 at halftime," Jandreau said about his Bulldogs' defense, highlighted by Galindo, Connor Jandreau and sweeper Tyler Haskins' ability to dodge bullets and turn away repeated Steamboat scoring attacks.
After a brief halftime ceremony acknowledging the Steamboat seniors' parents, the Sailors came out to their largest crowd of the year, but had trouble developing the same quality looks on goal, as Palisade's defense kept catching them with offsides traps.
After 22 minutes, the Sailors seniors finally started connecting. Max Hamil led Labor down the right line, giving him time to set up a cross into Sam Houston, who kicked a hard shot right at Galindo. Comeau ran in to hit the loose rebound in for his second goal of the night.
Five minutes later, Labor led Houston on a through ball to the left side, which Houston finished with a low shot to put Steamboat up, 3-0.
To cap off the seniors' night, Labor found Lickteig, playing forward for the last few minutes of the game, on a high-lofted cross that Lickteig headed in for the first goal of his high school career.
The 4-0 win puts Steamboat at 7-5-1 overall, 6-3-1 in league as they head into their game today in Rifle, one with vital point potential for the Sailors' chances of securing a post-season berth.
"Every game is practically a playoff game," Labor said, referring to the Sailors final two games of the season, tomorrow and Monday at Glenwood. "Our next two games are big."
- To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org