Steamboat Springs Like organic produce, the Steamboat Springs-Battle Mountain girls soccer rivalry is always fresh.
But as Thursday’s game proved, it has a better shelf life.
The two Western Slope League powerhouses waged another classic battle, this time a 2-1 Steamboat win at Gardner Field, keeping the Sailors very much alive for a league title.
Steamboat improved to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the Western Slope League. Battle Mountain now has dropped two straight games and fell to 6-2 and 5-2.
“It’s been so many days since we’ve played that it was such a relief to get out there,” said Sailors senior Emi Birch, who broke a 1-1 tie in the 65th minute on a laser of a free kick. “Let alone, we just beat Battle Mountain. Them and Palisade are the top contenders.”
Steamboat, playing just its third game in more than three weeks, controlled the pace of play the first 40 minutes. The Sailors outshot the Huskies, 8-2, and took six corner kicks to Battle Mountain’s zero.
But the two teams walked off the field after 40 minutes knotted at zero. It wasn’t, however, for a lack of opportunities — especially on the Sailors’ side.
Birch had an opportunity in the ninth minute, when her shot just outside the box was deflected wide by Battle Mountain goalkeeper Kate Gray.
Steamboat senior Kiersten Henry probably had the best two prospects for a tally in the first half. The first came on a corner kick that Henry headed just wide. Then in the 26th minute, Henry had the ball at her feet in the box, before her shot deflected off the crossbar.
The Huskies’ best first-half chance came in the 17th minute. There, senior Stephanie Woodruff’s high arching shot landed just over the crossbar.
Battle Mountain looked as if it would break the scoreless tie in the 42nd minute when Lizzie Seibert’s free kick hit the crossbar.
“That was really unlucky,” Battle Mountain coach Dave Cope said. “Liz did everything she could. She put it on target. Give that another inch or two lower, and it goes in. But those are the breaks that define rivalries like this. One year it falls for them, and one year it falls for us.”
Steamboat pushed ahead in the 48th. Mia Quick found a streaking Jenna Peters up the middle, and the senior pounded home the shot for a 1-0 Sailors lead.
The Huskies knotted it at 1 in the 57th, when Kelli Lindsay gathered up a deflection and scored.
“I definitely thought we had momentum,” Lindsay said. “We played really hard in the last half of the game compared to the first half.”
But in the 65th, Birch found herself with the free kick on the left side of the goal, a perfect place for her left-bending shot.
She teed it up, and it sailed just over the wall of defenders and into the upper left-hand corner for a 2-1 Steamboat lead.
Seibert had two more free kicks in the waning minutes, one that was just long and one that was blocked by a wall of Steamboat defenders.
“Consistently, this is the fullest game we’ve played so far,” Steamboat assistant coach Julie Wernig said. “And in terms of the competition, this is definitely a team to show up for.”
Steamboat should find equal challenges today. The team plays at 5 p.m. at Grand Junction High School, before returning for a 1 p.m. Saturday showdown with Palisade.
Battle Mountain resumes play and tries to shake the two-game losing streak at 4 p.m. Saturday at home against Delta.