Steamboat Springs High School sophomore Hanson Buchner reacts after scoring a goal during the first half of Saturday's game against Eagle Valley.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs High School sophomore Hanson Buchner reacts after scoring a goal during the first half of Saturday's game against Eagle Valley.

Steamboat soccer downs Eagle Valley

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Steamboat JV team picks up win

The Steamboat Springs High School boys junior varsity soccer team beat Eagle Valley 3-1 today. The Sailors got goals from John Vande Velde, Ryan Walker and Tucker Olson. The win improved the team to 3-1-4 overall.

— The Steamboat Springs High School soccer team beat Eagle Valley, 2-1, Saturday at Gardner Field, keeping the Sailors right in the thick of things in the Western Slope League.

The Sailors (6-3-1 overall, 4-2 in the Western Slope League) are in second place in the league, a game behind Battle Mountain.

“We’re finally starting to mesh together and find where people play best. It’s a lot better,” said Steamboat’s Alex Bashan, who chipped in a pair of assists Saturday. “We would have liked it to happen earlier in the season. Now that it’s happened, we definitely have a shot at the league title and playoffs.”

Saturday’s game was key for both teams looking to get into the thick of things in the league race. Both are chasing Battle Mountain and are in a group along with Moffat County and Glenwood Springs that look like possible playoff teams.

But Saturday, at least, it was apparent that Steamboat was the better team.

The Sailors played some of their best possession soccer.

It showed in the 19th minute. After a good buildup from midfield, Steamboat earned a corner kick. The kick came in, and Enrique Lopez initially hit a shot that deflected off an Eagle Valley defender. Bashan hit the next shot, and Devils goalkeeper Jose Serna collided with a defender before the Sailors’ Hanson Buchner finished it for a 1-0 lead.

“If we’re going to be in the fight, we have to get it together quick,” said Devils coach Jason Rittmiller, who had several players out with illness. “You can make it to playoffs with three (league) losses, but not more. But Steamboat played a good game. They played clean. It was a game of talent.”

Steamboat continued to get the run of play in the second half, banging its third shot of the game off the post.

Finally in the 58th, Bashan settled the ball along the left side of the box. With time, he found a streaking Christopher Holmquist in the middle of the box on a cross for a 2-0 lead.

Eagle Valley started to get something going in the final 15 minutes. The Devils started to win the possession battle and get the ball from the midfield to their forwards. In the 70th, sophomore Fernando Ruiz, a junior varsity player filling in because of illness, lobbed a perfectly placed shot from the left side of the box to cut the lead to 2-1.

Steamboat got possession back and wasn’t threatened again.

“A key characteristic of this group to continue to have success is just going with mindset of always being sharp,” Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. “It’s just relentless work. Then through that, we’re able to find the pieces. This is a blue-collar team. If we can have that mindset of relentless hard work through the course of the game, we’re able to create our opportunities.”

Steamboat next plays at 4 p.m. Friday at Palisade. Eagle Valley (3-5-1, 2-3) next plays at 6 p.m. Tuesday at home against Glenwood Springs.

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