Steamboat Springs soccer player Gracy Whelihan runs through a drill with teammates Tuesday afternoon at Gardner Field. The Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer team will travel to Longmont Wednesday to take on Skyline in the first round of the state playoffs.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs soccer player Gracy Whelihan runs through a drill with teammates Tuesday afternoon at Gardner Field. The Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer team will travel to Longmont Wednesday to take on Skyline in the first round of the state playoffs.

Steamboat girls soccers heads to Skyline for 1st round of playoffs

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— On paper, Wednesday night’s first-round playoff game between the Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer team and Skyline in Longmont looks like a clash of evenly matched programs.

So on Tuesday, Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann was focused on teaching a little more than offense, defense and kicking the ball. The coach ran through drills designed to spark his team’s passion, which he hopes will give the Sailors an edge in the first round of the 2011 4A Colorado State High School Soccer playoffs.

“We’ve been mainly focusing on our passion,” senior Hope Scott said. “We will be really passionate for one game or one practice, but then the next day, or next game, we will be kind of wishy-washy. Mentally we’ve really been preparing and trying to find our passion for this game.”

Wednesday night’s game will feature No. 13 Skyline (11-4) hosting No. 20 Steamboat (11-3-1) in a 4 p.m. contest. The game will be on the grass field at Skyline High School. Both coaches are expecting a close game where emotion and passion could sway the outcome.

“Steamboat is always in the playoffs, so we know that they have a good program up there and we are expecting a solid team,” Skyline coach Kevin Puckett said.

This will be the first time the two girls teams have met on the soccer field in recent memory. Neither coach can recall a regular-season or playoff meeting.

Skyline won the Tri-Valley League this season with a nearly perfect 11-1 league record. The team’s only loss came to Windsor, which finished second in the league. The team is anchored by a strong group of seniors, but also uses a mix of juniors and sophomores to fill out the starting roster. Puckett said there could even be a freshman on the field at the start of Wednesday night’s game.

Seniors are Carly Veum in goal and Emily Temple, Breanna Smith, Megan Hoglund and Bridget Stanton in front of her. Temple is leading the team in scoring, along with junior Sadie Stark, with 11 goals.

But Skyline is mostly an unknown for the Sailors players, and Scott doesn’t think that is necessarily a bad thing.

“It’s kind of exciting,” she said. “I’m sure the Skyline players have some sort of preconceived notion of who we are as team because we don’t come from the Front Range. It’s so much more challenging and fresh (to play a team like Skyline). The element of the unknown is an advantage for us.”

The Sailors are coming off one of the busiest weeks of the season, where the team played four games in four days. The season came to an end with a 2-0 loss to Palisade on Friday night — something that doesn’t concern Bohlmann, who was happy with the way his team played and held up during a demanding stretch.

“We don’t need to radically change anything that we’ve been doing in the last two months,” Bohlmann said. “We just need to focus on what we have been doing.”

Bohlmann said his hopes are that the team will play hard, that the team will play with intensity and that the players will keep things simple. If the Sailors can do that, he thinks the team will be successful.

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209 or email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com

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