Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer player Meghan Rabbitt stays a step ahead during a race for a loose ball Friday as the Sailors beat Palisade, 3-2.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer player Meghan Rabbitt stays a step ahead during a race for a loose ball Friday as the Sailors beat Palisade, 3-2.

Steamboat girls soccer downs Palisade, 3-2, in big league win

Sailors to face No. 1 Demons on April 28

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— Even before the second go-round for teams in the Western Slope League, the spotlight already had shifted to Friday’s Steamboat Springs-Palisade girls soccer game.

Palisade entered Friday half a game ahead of Steamboat in second place behind Glenwood Springs.

Steamboat certainly knew this, as the Sailors took control of the game early and withstood a late Bulldogs rally to take a 3-2 win and sole possession of second place in the league.

“We know it’s a big game,” said Steamboat’s Joanie Bier, who continued Steamboat’s hot starts, giving the Sailors a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute. “Palisade was a half-point ahead of us. It was scary at the end because anything can happen. But we pulled it out.”

After Palisade controlled the first 10 minutes of play, the Sailors had their first good buildup. Sarah White fed a ball to Carly Fox up the right side, and she crossed it to Bier for a 1-0 lead.

That seemed to propel an initially tentative Steamboat team.

After Palisade’s Frannery Davis — one of the top players in the league, who was blanketed most of the night by Meghan Rabbitt — hit the post in the 21st minute, Steamboat started to take control.

The Sailors got another goal on a beautiful ball from Skylar Weir to Megan Stabile in the 35th minute.

Weir hit a diagonal pass from the right side that a streaking Stabile caught up to on the left side. Stabile took two dribbles and drilled a shot into the upper right-hand corner for a 2-0 advantage.

Steamboat again connected on a long through ball in the 46th minute.

Stabile built up from the back and fed a ball from the middle of the field to Jenna Peters up the right side. Peters initially looked like she wouldn’t get to the ball, but eventually she did and was taken down inside the box.

Peters stepped up to the penalty kick and finessed one into the left corner to give Steamboat a 3-0 lead.

“We didn’t have opportunities to attack as much as we’re accustomed to,” Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. “The ability to come out of the defensive shape with some good buildups, we were able to seize the few opportunities we had.”

Palisade finally scored in the 64th minute, when Natalie Combs fed a corner kick that Cruz Vela deflected into the left corner to make it 3-1.

With momentum and playing more direct, Palisade had a great chance in the 66th minute. Combs crossed it again, and Vela had a point-blank shot that Steamboat keeper Hannah Barkey turned away.

But Palisade wasn’t done. In the 73rd minute, Davis hit a direct kick right on goal that took an in between hop, and Combs beat Barkey to the ball to cut the lead to 3-2.

Steamboat’s defense then clamped down, and the Sailors walked away with season-beginning goals intact.

Steamboat still trails Glenwood by a game in the standings, but the Demons make a return trip to Gardner Field on April 28.

“We’re going to be ready for revenge,” Bier said. “They’re going to have a lot to face. We definitely have our sights still set on a league championship and a home playoff game.”

— To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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