Glenwood Springs The outcome in no way factored into the 4A Western Slope League title race, but that didn’t matter much to Glenwood Springs’ girls soccer team.
A win against Steamboat Springs is always a big deal.
“Oh yeah,” Demons coach Bryan Stoltzfus said. “That’s our rival.”
Behind a hat trick from Michaela Mansfield, Stoltzfus’ side beat the rival Sailors on Wednesday, holding on for a 3-1 win at Stubler Memorial Field.
Glenwood, which last week locked up its first league title since 2002, came out determined to avenge a 2-1 loss to Steamboat suffered March 13. A loss and a tie to the Sailors last season also intensified the Demons’ Wednesday efforts.
“Well, we lost to them and tied them last season,” Mansfield said. “Last year, they’re the only team we lost to. We really didn’t want it to be the same as last year.”
The game certainly lived up to its rivalry billing.
Playing a physical brand of soccer, the Demons and Sailors traded scoring opportunities in the early going.
Eight minutes in, Steamboat’s Emily Birch weaved her way through the Glenwood defense for a good look. Her shot rolled wide.
In the 12th minute, the Sailors’ Kiersten Henry took a pass from a teammate and made a promising charge up the right side. She rolled a shot wide of the far post.
Moments later, Glenwood defender Megan Gould helped out goalkeeper Kenzie Kuhn by kicking away a point-blank shot from the Steamboat attack. Gould went on to head away a threat in the second half.
“She saved us twice,” Stoltzfus said with a grin.
The Demons had their share of close calls on offense. Most threatening was a 35th-minute run by Mansfield, who got a step on the Steamboat defense and made a run up the right side. She ripped off a 15-yarder that whizzed over the top of the crossbar.
The sophomore wouldn’t be denied in the 37th minute.
Taking a short pass from teammate Holly Brown, Mansfield found the upper right corner of the net with a sharp liner launched from just inside the 18-yard box to give Glenwood a 1-0 lead.
With the help of her teammates, Mansfield extended the advantage to 2-0 in the 55th minute.
Hope Whitman kicked off quite the sequence by making a run up the right side, tiptoeing the white of the sideline along the way. She sent a long cross toward net that trickled through to Corey Gera in the left corner. Gera then sent a pass back toward center, where Mansfield headed a point-blank shot past Steamboat keeper Molly Moore.
“That was just some really good passing,” Mansfield said. “It was really exciting. At any point, any of us could have shot, but it was really good that we worked it around to different players.”
The Sailors tightened the margin on a Birch penalty kick in the 72nd minute. She actually converted two penalty kicks, sending a sharp roller past Kuhn that didn’t count because a teammate prematurely entered the box. Birch stepped up and drilled a low liner past Kuhn on her second try.
All of a sudden, the pressure was on the Demons. For roughly six minutes, anyway.
Mansfield, again getting a boost from a teammate, delivered an insurance goal in the final minutes.
Working the ball into the left corner and drawing the defense and keeper toward her, Kendall Strautman rolled a cross to a wide-open Mansfield, who nudged home an easy score.
From there, the clock ran out on the Demons’ 13th win of 2010. They are now 13-1-0 overall.
Stoltzfus insisted he had no concerns about a loss of momentum after Birch’s penalty kick.
“I wasn’t worried,” he said. “I knew they would fight back. They’ve done it all season. They didn’t look dejected after that goal went in.”
Steamboat fell to 9-4-0 overall with the defeat. The Sailors will need a win in Friday’s regular-season finale at Centaurus to clinch a playoff spot. Coach Rob Bohlmann is confident his squad can bounce back.
“The kids can respond quickly,” he said. “We know that we didn’t do the best that we could (Wednesday). We know we could do a lot more. We have a lot going against us, but it’ll be a great challenge. This was our third game in three days. We have a recovery day (today) and then a fourth game in five days. We’ve got a big challenge, but we’ve got a group that we feel confident can get it done.”
Glenwood will close out its regular season today with a 4 p.m. game at Basalt.