Glenwood Springs There's just something about Steamboat Springs.
Even when the records going in might suggest a lopsided game is in the offing, Glenwood Springs and Steamboat girls soccer matchups never seem to lack in the thrilling department.
And Thursday was no different, as a late goal by Chelsea Vallario lifted underdog Glenwood to a 3-2 win against the visiting Sailors, who entered the day five up on the Demons in the win column.
Vallario, a senior, implored her younger teammates to leave it all on the field for this one.
"Especially since it's a big senior game," she said. "All the seniors asked the underclassmen to step up, especially since this was our last chance to beat Steamboat."
One underclassman, in particular, answered the seniors' call - Kendall Strautman.
"It was a big game for the seniors," said the sophomore, who finished with two goals. "Since it was their last chance to beat Steamboat, they told the whole team to work hard."
Strautman gave the Demons a 2-0 lead, knocking home one goal just before halftime and the other right after. She had some help from a senior teammate on the first one.
With 5 minutes to go until intermission, an alert Carly Stillman intercepted a Steamboat clear attempt in the heart of the Sailors' zone. After eluding a Steamboat defender, Stillman rolled a pass to a wide-open Kendall Strautman to the left of goal. Strautman took her time with the one-on-one opportunity, calmly booting the ball around goalkeeper Hannah Berglund.
Glenwood coach Bryan Stoltzfus equated making it to halftime ahead to dodging a bullet, and he was right.
Steamboat steadily peppered Glenwood goalkeeper Kelsie Hert in the opening half, putting five shots on goal to the Demons' three, but it was drawing metal and wide rolls on promising scoring chances that kept the Sailors off the board early.
Kiersten Henry ripped a shot high off the goal's crossbar 11:30 into the game. Five minutes later, a near-perfect forward ball from Carly Earp rolled just a little too quickly for a wide-open McKenzie Worden to receive. Worden would have taken the ball in a good spot for a short-range chance.
Worden later had a short-range shot - set up by a Hayley Brookshire cross - bounce right into the hands of Demon keeper Kelsie Hert.
"We could have taken charge of the game in the first 36 minutes," Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann, whose team fell to 7-2-1 overall and in the 4A Western Slope League. "We were creating opportunities and attacking, but we just couldn't put it in the back of the net."
The Demons, on the other hand, did their best to convert their early scoring chances.
Strautman kicked off the second half by intercepting a pass and taking it in for a breakaway goal just 1:17 into the second half.
Steamboat, though, didn't wilt. Fifty-five seconds after Strautman's goal, Worden converted a short-range shot amid a scrum in front of the net to make it 2-1.
The Sailors went on to level the contest with 20:01 left when Carly Earp hooked in a free-kick goal that curled over the long, outstretched arms of the 6-foot-1 Hert.
That, and some 15 and a half minutes of tense, defensive soccer, set the table for Vallario's heroics.
"I think my heart stopped about five or six times," Stoltzfus joked. "I wish we could play Steamboat once every week. We're always up for them, and they're always up for us. It's a good rivalry."
Thursday's win gave Glenwood (3-3-0 overall, 3-2-0 4A WSL) a season split with the Sailors. On March 18, Steamboat edged the Demons, 2-1, in an overtime affair.