Steamboat Springs Although it wasn't necessarily the way the Steamboat Springs High School soccer team thought it might happen, the team got the job done Saturday at Dudley Field against Rifle.
The Sailors struggled for most of the first half, struggling to figure out the Bears. But when it mattered most, Steamboat found its stride.
Steamboat's Blake Eddington scored the equalizer at the end of the first half, after Jose Salazar gave Rifle the lead, and Grant Murray scored the game-winner just a minute into extra time to give Steamboat a 2-1 win.
"I don't think it's a thing that we consciously looked past these guys," said Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann, whose team was coming off a 2-1 win against Battle Mountain on Tuesday. "Rifle is technical, they're spirited and they play hard."
In the first half, it looked as though Rifle was the team battling for a Western Slope League title. The Bears had constant possession - often in the Steamboat zone - but only were able to come away with Salazar's goal in the 27th minute.
"I thought we played for 30 minutes on their half," Rifle coach Ryan Mahler said. "I would have liked to put one more on the board there, but going anywhere on the road, you're an underdog."
Eddington scored toward the end of the first half to knot the score at 1. In the second half, Steamboat got back to its controlling style of play.
In the final 10 minutes of regulation, each team had multiple chances. Rifle missed two opportunities in the Steamboat box, while Josh Fix and Ryan McConnell fired shots that went just wide of the net.
Murray probably had the best opportunity to end it in regulation. He rifled a shot from just outside the Rifle box that careened off the crossbar.
But in extra time, Murray got his redemption. After a Steamboat corner kick sent the ball to the far post, a deflection found Murray, who headed it in for the 2-1 win.
The win still keeps Steamboat in the running for one of the top two seeds in the Western Slope League, and even for a potential league title.
That quest continues on Tuesday when Steamboat travels to league-leader Eagle Valley.
"There's a lot of learnable stuff that could come into play on Tuesday in what will be a spirited game," Bohlmann said. "We need to find a way to use a little more composure in our play."