Steamboat soccer still in the game

Tuesday's match-up against Eagle Valley looms large for Sailors high school team

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— The Steamboat Springs High School soccer team continued to do everything it could to remain in the Western Slope League title race, dispatching Rifle, 8-1, on Saturday.

The Sailors, now 6-0-4, will prep for their biggest game of the year, when Eagle Valley comes to Gardner Field on Tuesday.

The 6 p.m. game will have a huge impact on the eventual league standings.

Battle Mountain leads the league, with Steamboat and Eagle in hot pursuit. If Steamboat wins out and Battle Mountain loses any of its remaining two games, the Sailors will be league champions. Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain play Thursday.

"Tuesday is key," Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. "The big thing for us is to go into that game with confidence. Tactically we feel our game plan going in is good."

On Saturday, Steamboat had little trouble with Rifle.

Despite the Bears having seven players back in the lineup that they didn't have the first time the two teams met, the Sailors all but put the game away in the first 40 minutes.

Steamboat got two first-half goals from Andrew White and goals from Johnathon Ricker, Grant Murray and Enrique Lopez en route to a 5-0 lead.

Kyle Kounovsky, Connor Birch and Sam Glaisher scored in the second half for the 8-0 win.

"It was a hard-fought game," Bohlmann said. "There was a little hostility, but the players dealt with it well. They played with composure and kept things in check."

Still, most of the attention Saturday was on the scenarios that could play out for a league championship.

If Steamboat wins out, the worst the team can finish is second place. That position is looking more and more like it will get a home playoff game when the Class 4A state playoffs start.

Eagle Valley made the case Saturday for two teams from the league to get a home game, beating Front Range power Golden, 4-2.

The Sailors beat the Devils 1-0 earlier in the season on a late goal by Lopez. Despite the earlier win, the Sailors know that both teams will be primed to play come Tuesday.

"Right now, that's the biggest game of the year," White said. "We feel it's a league decider. We know we can do it. They probably have some doubts, but they're coming off that win against Golden. We have to finish off every chance. Every opportunity we get, we have to make it count."

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