Steamboat soccer earns postseason play

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— Thursday could have been a real nail-biter for the Steamboat Springs boys soccer team.

A Class 4A Western Slope League loss to Moffat County earlier in the week could have meant all eyes on Durango, hoping its soccer team could beat Montezuma-Cortez and increase the Sailors' chances for a postseason berth.

Instead, when Steamboat was down 2-1 to Moffat in the closing minutes of that crucial game Tuesday, the Sailors demonstrated what coach Rob Bohlmann said has been the team's defining characteristic this season - resiliency.

Steamboat sophomore Sam Glaisher connected with senior Kevin Bertrand to tie the game and cement the Sailors' postseason qualification.

The 2-2 tie helped Steamboat finish the regular season with a winning league record at 6-4-2 (6-7-2 overall). The finish marks the second straight year Steamboat has advanced to the postseason. Since joining Class 4A, Steamboat has made it as far as the state quarterfinals in 2000. Last year, it earned a No. 23 seed and was eliminated in the first round.

As Bohlmann looks back on the regular season, he's pleased to have emerged on top of a string of tight games - with the exception of losses to Battle Mountain and Centaurus and a pair of blowout wins against Palisade and an earlier win against Moffat County.

"Every game was competitive," Bohlmann said. "With the one-goal differentials, it's where we can make that 5 to 10 percent difference in intensity, possessions and capitalizing on our goal-scoring opportunities to carry confidence to the postseason."

The Colorado High School Activities Association announces the Class 4A 32-team playoff bracket Sunday. The top five teams from the Western Slope League, which also factors in Montezuma-Cortez and Montrose, earn berths.

At 12-2, Montrose likely will earn the top seed, followed closely by league champion Battle Mountain. Eagle Valley and Steamboat share identical league records, but Steamboat's two losses to Battle Mountain mean that Eagle Valley, which tied Battle Mountain in a game this season, will earn a higher seed. The final spot is then up for grabs between Montezuma-Cortez and Glenwood Springs.

Bohlmann anticipates a seed somewhere between No. 24 and 30 for Steamboat's first-round match, scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

But gauging a potential matchup with a top-eight team, Bohlmann looks back at Steamboat's Oct. 6 game against Centaurus, a team likely to get in that top eight.

"We were just flat when we played them," Bohlmann said about the 6-1 loss. "But we can play with them. If we have a group like that, we'll be able to show better. You know, any given day, things could happen."

One thing is for certain, Steamboat will be gunning for a win, whether it's the veteran leaders' last hurrah or the young ranks experiencing their first postseason. Of Steamboat's 19 players, 16 will be making their first or last runs at a state championship game.

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