Breckenridge Winless in its first three matches, it appeared a long day on the pitch loomed for the Gentlemen of the Blue Goose rugby squad when it took on the two-time defending Mountain League champion Steamboat Rugby Club on Saturday.
Instead, Breckenridge's young club dominated play early and often in a 47-21 rout at Breck's Kingdom Park. The Blue Goose's Braden Shoop scored two tries and Nathaniel Olsen accounted for 22 points in the win.
"I think that what we saw today was the culmination of the whole season thus far," Blue Goose head coach Peter Clarke said. "Even though we have lost games, we have improved in every game, and today, it definitely showed."
The Blue Goose controlled early play, driving down the pitch and taking a 7-0 lead when Shoop broke a tackle and scurried past the try line.
Despite the Blue Goose maintaining possession during the next few minutes, a turnover and a missed tackle gave Steamboat a three-on-two break. Then, after two connecting passes, Shane Dooley went into the in-goal area untouched for the try.
By hitting the conversion, Steamboat took what would be their only share of the lead Saturday.
Blue Goose players responded quickly with two tries of their own, stretching their lead to 14 points. Steamboat wouldn't go away, however, breaking through the Blue Goose defense for another try as Mike Buffalo dove over the try-line to cut the score to 21-14.
Steamboat "has a lot of big guys, and they wanted to tighten it up a bit," Clarke said of the early play. "So we widened out and made them move all around the pitch, and I think that they got tired."
The strategy seemed to work when Olsen chased down a kick and dove on the ball for the try to give the Blue Goose a 26-14 halftime lead.
The second half was more of the same for Breck. After Steamboat's Derrick Smith ran in an early try, the Blue Goose scored 21 straight points. Olsen drilled home three penalty kicks, Shoop and Nate Yannacone each scored tries and the Blue Goose closed out a 47-21 win.
Olsen was 4-6 on conversions and 3-4 on penalty kicks for the day.
"We really came together," Olsen said. "We have lots of guys coming in from all over. The time together has helped build our team up."
The loss dropped Steamboat to a disappointing 1-2 on the year.
Capitan and fullback Michael Hurley was disappointed in his team's play.
"They showed up wanting it much more than us," he said. "I think our boys showed up thinking that we will get the win, and that usually isn't a good way to go into it.
"Full credit to Breckenridge, though. They played how we like to play: do the hard stuff early and then spread it out."
For the Blue Goose (1-3), who are next in action at the Cowpie Classic on July 12 in Steamboat, the victory could be a sign of things to come.
"I think we saw today, for the first time, that we played some really nice rugby and played as a team and not just individuals," Clarke said.