Steamboat soccer prepares to head to Wheat Ridge

Sailors confident in match

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Today's first round Class 4A state playoff match with No. 10 Wheat Ridge and No. 23 Steamboat Springs doesn't appear to be your typical lopsided first-round matchup.

Sure, Steamboat will be on the road at Wheat Ridge and considered the underdog, but judging from the tone of each coach, this is a game either team could win.

"It's one of those game that I told the boys isn't just the No. 10 seed against the No. 23 seed," Farmers coach Jay Hamilton said of the 5 p.m. game. "I don't see them as a 23 seed. They're a team that can beat us if we don't play well."

Judging by common opponents, Hamilton is spot on.

Wheat Ridge, the second seed out of the Class 4A Jeffco League, beat Summit, 3-0, and Centaurus, 4-1.

Earlier this year, Steamboat beat Summit, 4-0, and Centaurus, 2-1.

Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann said those are numbers that people can read too much into. Still, he said, he's taking a confident bunch to Lakewood Memorial Stadium.

"Net to net, it's a game that's winnable," Bohlmann said. "It's not out of our reach, and it's not out of their reach. It's a winnable game. It's a good draw."

The Farmers are led by an experienced back four and playmakers Reid Hukari and Alex Fernandez.

Fernandez, a midfielder, sets the offense in motion, Hamilton said. Hukari's scored 17 goals this season, using his 6-foot-5 frame to the best of his advantage.

"The unique thing is he's a big, tall kid," Bohlmann said about Hukari. "One of their tendencies is to take advantage of that with headers. We're going to have to work to defend those crosses and get up and challenge him."

For Steamboat, the game plan for victory hasn't changed much since the first game. Bohlmann said the Sailors have to get off to a good start, control the ball and capitalize on their chances.

Considering four of Steamboat's five losses this year have been by one goal, Bohlmann said he knows his team will be in the game.

Whether they're able to capitalize on their opportunities will be the big question.

"I think (the key) is composure in play," Bohlmann said. "You get into the playoffs, and we have to play early, play quick and also have to keep the composure until we establish our rhythm."

- To reach Luke Graham, call 871-4229

or e-mail lgraham@steamboatpilot.com

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