Steamboat Spring High School senior Christopher Holmquist runs past Eagle Valley’s Julio Garcia during the Sailors’ Oct. 2 game.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Spring High School senior Christopher Holmquist runs past Eagle Valley’s Julio Garcia during the Sailors’ Oct. 2 game.

Soccer rivals Steamboat, Battle Mountain face off tonight

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If you go

What: Steamboat Springs High School boys soccer (7-3-1, 5-2) vs. Battle Mountain (9-3, 7-1)

When: 6 p.m. today

Where: Gardner Field, Steamboat Springs High School

Cost: $5 for adults; $4 K-12 students and senior citizens; children younger than 5 are free

Today’s game is Youth Night for the Steamboat Springs soccer club, meaning all youth soccer players from the city’s leagues can gain free entry by wearing their team jerseys.

— Given their long history of highly contentious games, a late-season matchup between rival Western Slope League high school soccer powers Steamboat Springs and Bat­­­­tle Moun­tain likely would prove bit­­­­ter even if nothing were on the line.

But something is on the line, ensuring that today’s top-of-the-league clash between the two is a game both have been waiting for.

Battle Moun­­­­tain, alone atop the league with a 7-1 West­­ern Slope record, and Steam­boat, by itself in second place with a 5-2 mark, meet at 6 p.m. at Gar­­d­­­­ner Field in Steam­­­­boat Sp­­rings.

“Whatever angle you look at, you’ll have two pretty motivated teams, and the result will be a great soccer game,” Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. “We are expecting a game where you’re going to have to fight and scrap for a complete 80 minutes.”

Today’s game will mark the teams’ second matchup of the season. Battle Mountain usedsuperior speed to run the Sailors off the field for a 3-0 win nearly four weeks ago.

That loss, two days after a 5-1 rout at the feet of Moffat County, marked the low point of the season for Steamboat.

The Huskies controlled the action, either scoring on long breakaway runs or setting up opportunities that way. The team ended up putting in two of its three scores via penalty kick.

“We were able to accelerate the game to a pace where Steamboat wasn’t comfortable keeping up with it,” Battle Mountain coach David Cope said. “It helped that we got an early start and were able to impose our rhythm rather than play to Steamboat’s.”

Things have turned around nicely for the Sailors since then. The team has lost just once and, coming off a 4-2 victory Friday against Palisade, has won three straight, outscoring opponents, 14-5, in that span.

Battle Mountain too has been strong in that stretch, but Steam­­boat is eager to get another crack at the Huskies, especially one playing at home.

“Our game in general has improved,” Bohlmann said. “These guys are coming into their own as far as just being able to go out and play and manage a game for 80 minutes.

“It isn’t even anything specific. We just feel like our level of soccer has slowly progressed as the season’s moved along.”

As far as the Sailors are concerned, today would be a fine time for that maturation process to reach its zenith.

Steamboat edged out Battle Mountain for the league title a year ago and could force a tie in the season’s waning weeks if it can manage a win in this second encounter. Battle Mountain has one league game scheduled after today, and Steamboat has two.

“We’re expecting a highly motivated and well prepared Steamboat team,” Cope said. “We know Steamboat is the defending champions, so we’re going up there to try and wrest that away from them. We’re expecting a mighty struggle.”

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