First round test

Steamboat faces No. 10 Longmont in state soccer

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— The cards have been dealt for Steamboat Springs boys soccer.

Sunday morning, the Colorado High School Activities Association's seeding committee awarded the Sailors the No. 23 seed in their 32-team 4A state tournament bracket.

The first round game pits Steamboat (9-5-1 overall) against No. 10-seeded Longmont (11-3-1). Kickoff is at 6 p.m. today.

Despite the program's two-year drought from postseason play, Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann hasn't had his team slow down to celebrate.

"We're not saying 'yippe-kay-ya, we made the playoffs,'" Bohlmann said. "We're going down to get the result."

The winner of the first round will play the winner of Niwot (No. 7) and Evergreen (No. 26) on Saturday.

Senior Nick Labor said he's confident in his team's chances against the No. 10-ranked team, considering that the Sailors beat No. 9-ranked Battle Mountain earlier in the season. Montrose was the Western Slope region's top-ranking tournament team at No. 6, followed by Battle Mountain, Steamboat, Glenwood (No. 27) and Eagle Valley (No. 30).

Longmont is coming off a close 2-1 loss on a pair of penalty kicks to undefeated, No. 1-ranked Broomfield.

Trojans coach Nathan Oliver said he saw the loss as a good test heading into the playoffs. The Trojans have not qualified for the postseason during the past three seasons, and Oliver hopes his team is not looking past the Sailors to a potential match-up with Northern Conference rival Niwot.

"We've got the talent to stick around," Oliver said. "It's a matter of us playing our game versus playing someone else's."

Bohlmann echoed Oliver's self-conscious approach.

"We'll go in defensive-minded and be stingy," Bohlmann said. "We don't want to give away any soft goals, start clean and sharp, try to set the tone and not give them anything."

Steamboat will be unable to match Longmont's healthy, full roster. The Sailors will be playing without striker Miguel Lomeli, starting goalkeeper Bjorn Lickteig and back-up goalkeeper Eric Carlson, due to undisclosed reasons.

The pressure will be on freshman goalkeeper Connor Birch to help stop the scoring attack of Longmont senior captain Bobby Cinea and scoring leader Juan Hernandez.

Steamboat seniors Max Hamil and David Comeau said they felt ready for the game before practice Tuesday. They looked back to Steamboat's last postseason appearance, when, in 2003, the pair, along with Labor, were freshman "tagging along for the ride."

"Now it's our team and there's more ownership," Com-eau said, noting that their team will be playing on the same artificial surface they are used to.

Hamil added that the team's play has come together during its final streak of four league wins at the end of the regular season.

"We're more mentally there - we know how to play the game," Hamil said.

- To reach Dave Shively, call 871-4253 or e-mail dshively@steamboatpilot.com

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