Steamboat Springs High School junior Hanson Buchner moves the ball through the Eagle Valley defense in the first half of Tuesday night's game at Gardner Field in Steamboat Springs. The Sailors won, 7-1.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs High School junior Hanson Buchner moves the ball through the Eagle Valley defense in the first half of Tuesday night's game at Gardner Field in Steamboat Springs. The Sailors won, 7-1.

Western Slope League soccer title to be settled Thursday

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— As Eagle Valley soccer coach Jason Rittmiller and Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann shook hands after Tuesday’s soccer game at Gardner Field, a 7-1 Sailors triumph, no good-luck trinkets were exchanged.

No rabbit feet, clover leafs or Battle Mountain voodoo dolls.

“You didn’t see the $200 I slipped into his pocket,” Bohlmann joked.

But as the Western Slope League heads into the final week, it appears Steamboat will need help Thursday to win the league.

Eagle Valley is at Battle Mountain that day and Steamboat welcomes Moffat County. Both games are at 6 p.m. and will have coaches and those interested in the programs exchanging text messages all night.

Assuming Steamboat and Battle Mountain win, the tiebreaker will go to goals given up in league, where Battle Mountain holds the edge.

What’s this all mean?

If you’re a fan of Steamboat soccer, you’re hoping for a Sailors win Thursday and a Battle Mountain loss or tie to Eagle Valley.

“We’ll see what happens with Battle Mountain,” Bohlmann said. “If it’s all tied up after that, we’ll look at all the tiebreaker scenarios from there.”

Before Steamboat could think about Thursday, it played an odd game with Eagle Valley. The Devils had the run of play for the first 20 minutes, consistently getting pressure into the Steamboat defensive third but never coming up with a goal.

“Possession was great, and we did really well the first part of the game,” Devils coach Jason Rittmiller said. “I’m not sure what happened. Then you try (scoring) several times in a row, and you get disappointed. From there, it fell apart.”

Steamboat (11-2-1, 7-1-1) got two first-half goals from Mac Noel and one from Enrique Lopez to jump up 3-0.

The Sailors’ John Vande Velde made it 4-0 two minutes into the second, and Noel got his third of the night in the 53rd to make it 5-0. Vincent Kretzschmar made it 6-0, and Tucker Olson made it 7-0 before Eagle Valley’s Nestar Escobar converted a header on a corner to get Eagle Valley on the board.

Now the Western Slope turns to Thursday when, as far as rivalry games go, nothing is guaranteed.

“We’re just looking at Moffat,” Sailors keeper Carter Kounovsky said. “We know when they get past midfield they are looking to shoot. We have to step up and possess it all around.”

For Eagle Valley (4-10, 2-7) a win against its rival would make the season more bearable.

The Devils had the Huskies on the ropes in their first meeting, but Battle Mountain scored in overtime to take a 2-1 win.

“We got a reason to win and they got a reason to win,” Rittmiller said. “If we win Thursday, everyone goes away with a big smile.”

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

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