Steamboat Springs It was an opportunity Chris Baumann could barely even have imagined.
Trailing by six in the waning moments of Saturday’s rugby game that pit homestanding Steamboat Springs against its archrivals from Vail, Baumann picked up a loose ball just feet from the try line. A Vail line out had gone errant, he grabbed the ball, rolled around one defender and fell in for the score.
A missed conversion kick — Steamboat’s only one of the day — left the squad one point back, however, and dropped the team to its second loss in as many games this season.
Vail hung on Saturday at Whistler Park in Steamboat, 41-40.
“I couldn’t convert that last conversion try,” kicker and team co-captain Tim Callahan said. “I made all the others, but the one that made the difference on paper was the one I blew.
“We lost by a point, and that will tell you how much heart we showed.”
It appeared through portions of the game that Callahan wouldn’t even have the chance to kick for the win. Vail broke open a close game in the first half, pulling ahead, 29-14, by the end of the first half. It led again by two scores early in the second, when another try made the score 34-21.
The first of Baumann’s two second-half scores gave Steamboat a narrow 35-34 advantage, however, capping a run in which Steamboat claimed three of four scores. Callahan’s leg was perfect after the first five tries, lifting the team.
As out of it as Steamboat had looked in the middle part of the game, they looked in control as the end neared. The team drove down the field and was within a breath of scoring a try that would have added all the insurance it would need. A bobbled ball right at the line stopped that, however, and Vail rebounded from its own goal line snub to go ahead, 41-35.
“Vail had the numbers,” Baumann said. “Steamboat boys need to get out here. We’re struggling for numbers every week, but if we get a good, solid core of local guys, we’ll do pretty well.”
Steamboat returns to action at 3 p.m. June 25 again at Whistler Park against Aspen.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com