Photo by Matt Stensland
Steamboat Springs High School sophomore Enrique Lopez takes a shot to bring the Sailors to a 2-0 lead against Moffat County High School. Steamboat won, 3-0.
The Steamboat Springs-Moffat County soccer game ended at 7 p.m., but the real drama took place one county over and two hours later.
The Steamboat boys soccer team had done its part for the Western Slope League championship, a quick 3-0 win against Moffat County on Thursday at Gardner Field.
But for the Sailors to be crowned league champs for the first time since winning back-to-back championships in 2000 and 2001, Steamboat had to wait for the Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain result, a game that started 90 minutes after Steamboat's did.
Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann got the good news via a phone call from Battle Mountain coach Dave Cope directly after the Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley game had ended.
The Huskies and Devils played to a scoreless tie, giving the Sailors their first league title in eight years.
"As a group we did what we could do and feel good about what we've done," Bohlmann said. "Yes, it's a great feeling now that we know. In reality, as tight as the league has been, we did everything we could. Sometimes luck goes on our side, and sometimes you earn your luck. It just happened to work our way this time."
Before Steamboat could celebrate, the team had to take care of business against a young Moffat squad.
Brandon Marr got it going for Steamboat in the 18th minute. Sam Glaisher hit a perfect through ball from the right side to the back right post, where Marr headed it in for a 1-0 Sailors lead.
Moffat had two prime chances in the first half. The first came when Lupe Rodriguez and Sailors keeper Connor Birch battled for the ball in the box, and Birch got there first.
The second, and probably best, came in the 18th minute when a corner ball rumbled around the box. A point-blank shot deflected off a Steamboat defender and out of the box.
"We were still coming out pretty confident, but at the same time thinking about last year where we had trouble with them," Steamboat senior Colton Harding said. "We knew it wouldn't be easy, but we thought we could get it done. As soon as we got the ball, possessed and got the first goal, we could relax a little."
Steamboat got some breathing room in the 56th minute. After just missing on multiple chances, Enrique Lopez got a ball outside the box with space and hit a low shot just inside the post for a 2-0 lead.
Glaisher put the game away five minutes later when a rifle of a shot made its way through a crowded box and inside the left post for a 3-0 Steamboat lead.
Moffat coach Rusty Cox wasn't upset with the effort. Considering that the Bulldogs have only four seniors and at times played as many as six freshmen, Cox said the program is on the upswing.
"I mean, we're building," he said. "This year we've doubled what we did the year before. We're building. They never worry. They just go. This team is great. They go out there and have fun. They step and just go. So what it's the last game of the year? There's always next year, there's always indoor soccer. There's always something."
Steamboat now prepares to find out its playoff fate Sunday when the Colorado High School Activities Association will dole out the playoff seeds.
Bohlmann couldn't guess where his team would be seeded. But judging from past seasons, a home playoff game and top-12 seed should be expected.
"You can always go back and kind of say a few what-ifs in some of the games throughout the season. But all in all that's few and far between," Bohlmann said. "We feel pretty good about what we've done in league play. It's been tight and competitive. You love to see that."