Gypsum The grass is always greener on the other side of the street - literally.
Steamboat Springs girls soccer has the luxury of playing on a turf field for its home matches, but with road games on grass, the Sailors needed some time to adjust to the green stuff, especially with games at Moffat County on Tuesday and Glenwood Springs on Thursday.
So Steamboat welcomed the opportunity to take to the grass at the Gypsum Sports Complex on Saturday, dispatching Eagle Valley, 8-0.
"I think we just had to get used to it because it's a lot slower," said senior Miranda Schrock, who had two goals along with teammates Emi Birch and McKenzie Worden. "You just had to have more movement off the ball and get used to the ball checking up because it is slower. It just gets us ready for the next couple of games."
That's critical for the Sailors (6-1-1), who while not looking ahead of the Bulldogs, doubtless are concerned about going Thursday to Stubler Memorial Field, the 4A Western Slope's house of horrors for visiting teams.
"We've played a lot of games on turf, and we've got Glenwood coming up," Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. "We had to make the adjustment on getting more weight behind the ball as we played it. We struggled the first 20, 30 minutes of the game. That was a positive, for sure."
Youth is served
Although Bohlmann may have thought his charges struggled on the grass early, it didn't show in the result. The Sailors dropped a four-spot on the Devils during the first 19 minutes, essentially ending the contest. Sophomore Birch scored the first two for the visitors, and Worden and Schrock followed in quick succession.
After Schrock scored to start the second half, the Sailors put up their prettiest tally of the day. Freshman Hayley Brookshire slotted a beautiful pass against the grain to sophomore Kiersten Henry, who ran right onto the ball and punched it home. Elise Anderson and Worden found the back of the net to finish the scoring.
With the paucity of junior varsity games this spring in the Western Slope, Bohlmann brought a lot of his program's younger players, and they saw considerable playing time. The coach was pleased with the way they played with solid possession.
"It's nice. We're fortunate," Bohlmann said. "A lot of these girls are composed players, and they just go around and play well and play simply and it's good."
Eagle Valley (0-5) did have two scoring opportunities (Marlin DeCamp and Nicole Luczkow), but Steamboat dictated the tempo throughout the game.
Devils coach Francois Nanin was effusive in his praise for the Sailors.
"The four games we played before today, if you were playing in Europe, this is not soccer," Nanin said. "The game the (Western Slope) is playing is hockey soccer, the body before the ball. Steamboat is a team that plays soccer. They play the ball. They push you, maybe, but they play the ball first.
"This is the best team. They have been in the playoffs the last five years, and they deserve it. There are teams, Battle Mountain and others in the (league), who are more aggressive, who are more athletic maybe, but technically (Steamboat) is the best team."
Steamboat leads the league with 19 points, seven ahead of Battle Mountain (4-0), which dumped Palisade, 5-0, on Saturday. The Huskies have games in hand and won at Steamboat, 2-0, last month. For the curious, the Huskies and Sailors meet in Edwards on April 15.