Realignment opens up top soccer teams

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Steamboat alumni soccer game Sunday

Rob Bohlmann will host the first Steamboat alumni soccer game Sunday. The game is at noon and will be played at Ski Town Fields.

Bohlmann said all alumni are welcome and that the game will be played in memory of Ann Barney.

Barney, a former Steamboat Springs High School soccer star, died in a car accident in January while on her way back to college.

"It's a tribute to Ann Barney," Bohlmann said. "She really was an icon for all high school soccer players and all high school athletes."

— In an effort to make Western Slope soccer more competitive, the girls Western Slope League is looking at realignment for the 2008-09 season.

The league will be divided into two four-team divisions. Battle Mountain, Steamboat Springs, Moffat County and Eagle Valley would be in one division, while Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Palisade and Delta would make up the other. Each team would play the teams in its division twice and teams in the other division once.

With this format, teams would have 10 league games and five games for nonleague opponents.

The old format had Western Slope League teams playing 14 league games with only one nonleague game.

"Really, the impact that this will give all our teams is the opportunity to work with our schedule and play some teams on the Front Range," Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. "Now, we only have one nonleague game."

The change should be particularly beneficial for Battle Mountain and Steamboat - consistently the top two teams in the league.

With the new format, the two teams would have the chance to play top-end teams from the Front Range in order to prepare for the state playoffs.

Also playing teams from the Front Range will give the selection committee for the state tournament a better gauge of where to seed teams from the Western Slope, Bohlmann said.

Despite a 15-0 record this past season, Battle Mountain was seeded ninth in the 32-team state bracket.

"It's going to be huge for our teams," Bohlmann said. The Front Range "is a different speed of play. Many times in the game of soccer, as well as many other sports, to be successful at a high level it takes getting thrown into that play where players can learn and adapt to that speed of play.

"You can't get there if you don't have the opportunity."

The change comes at a perfect time, with next year beginning another two-year Colorado High School Activities Association cycle. That means this summer typically is when schools schedule games.

In other soccer news, the Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer team placed five girls on the postseason all-league team and was named the academic team champion of the season.

The academic championship means Steamboat had the highest combined grade point average of any of the Class 4A girls soccer teams.

Freshmen Shelby Struble and Hayley Brookshire as well as senior Miranda Schrock made the honorable-mention all-league team. Senior Carly Earp and sophomore Courtney Garth were selected to the first team.

Schrock and Earp were the only two seniors on the team.

Battle Mountain's Emily LyBarger was named Player of the Year for the second straight season. The Huskies' David Cope was named Coach of the Year.

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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