Steamboat Springs Sure, the Steamboat Pacific men's soccer team wanted to win Saturday's game against El Mexico, a desire made even more acute by the 4-1 beat down the Craig club put on the Steamboat Springs side in its first game of the season.
But all things considered, the Pacific players left the fields at Christian Heritage School rather pleased with themselves, the 4-4 tie they played to an indication of how much they've improved in the last month and of how well they played after falling in a 4-1 hole early in Saturday's second half.
"Actually, we feel really good about it because of the way we came back," Steamboat goalie Rob Peterson said. "These guys rocked it. That's the first time we've come back after being down like that, so a tie isn't that bad."
Steamboat's Kyle Nelson scored two goals and Luke Dudley and Tony Counts each added one as Pacific pieced together a furious rally despite a nightmare start to the second half.
The team, now 0-2-1 on the season, trailed, 2-1, after the first half, but for the most part it had answered El Mexico's advances and kept the Craig squad under pressure. The game blew open just minutes after the break, however, when El Mexico made the score 3-1 by dinking in a header and then 4-1 when Peterson couldn't control a loose ball in front of the net.
"We were ready to go but just lapsed," he said.
The back-to-back blows didn't do much to deflate the Pacific, however. Steamboat amped up the pressure and possessed the ball for much of the rest of the half. The intensity paid off with a goal when Steamboat converted a corner kick on a Dudley header into the back of the net.
Counts then followed with a score of his own on a breakaway. As the El Mexico goalkeeper rushed out to try and corral the ball, Counts tapped it high in the air over the stampeding goalie's head and softly into the net.
Steamboat finally evened the score when Hobey Early broke free and headed for the goalie's left hand. At the last minute, he crossed the ball to a charging Nelson, who slammed it home for the 4-4 tie.
"We've played a couple games together and it's coming together nice now," Nelson said. "The main thing was we were moving the ball a lot better than we have been. That made the difference."
Nelson also got Steamboat on the board in the first half, tying the game at 1 when he hammered the ball into the far corner of the net after a corner kick. He nearly gave Steamboat the win, too, with a late second-half attempt smashing hard into the top corner of the post before ricocheting back onto the field.
"I could have had a couple more," Nelson said afterward. "They had a couple easy ones, but we were happy to at least get a couple in."