Steamboat Springs junior Mac Noel is tripped up by Summit County’s Connor Hebert as he drives toward the Tigers’ goal in the first half of Tuesday night’s game at Gardner Field. The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 first-half lead in the Sailors’ season opener, but the home team rallied in the second half to escape with a 3-2 victory. Noel didn’t score on this play but later netted Steamboat’s first goal of the season.

Photo by John F. Russell

Steamboat Springs junior Mac Noel is tripped up by Summit County’s Connor Hebert as he drives toward the Tigers’ goal in the first half of Tuesday night’s game at Gardner Field. The Tigers jumped out to a 2-0 first-half lead in the Sailors’ season opener, but the home team rallied in the second half to escape with a 3-2 victory. Noel didn’t score on this play but later netted Steamboat’s first goal of the season.

Steamboat soccer opens season with win

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— After the first 40 minutes of Tuesday night’s season opener at Gardner Field, members of the Steamboat Springs High School boys soccer team should have been smiling. But after falling behind Summit, 2-0, in the first half, the Sailors needed a second-half rally to escape with a 3-2 victory and a few smiles.

Despite the first-half score, the Sailors had controlled the pace of the game from the start and dominated play in the opponent’s end for most of the night. The home team created numerous scoring opportunities against the Summit High School team in the first, but thanks to a solid Tiger counterattack and a couple of opening-night mistakes, the Sailors exited the field at halftime trailing 2-0.

“We were a little nervous since this was our first game of the season,” Steamboat senior Lance Ostrom said. “We knew we were down two-nil and we talked about how the pressure would define us. We really didn’t play any different the second half. We just calmed down, started taking good touches and put the ball in the back of the net.”

Summit County took an early advantage in the game after junior defender Connor Hebert scored on a routine ball at the 11-minute mark to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead. Summit also took advantage of another break in the Sailor’s midfield at the 48-minute mark when senior forward Mark Nowakiwsky scored on one of the Tigers few trips into the Sailors offensive end.

“Our second half was really no different than our first,” Steamboat Springs coach Rob Bohlmann said. “I think we played pretty consistently, and we attacked well and, in the early stage of the game, to have that kind of consistency early is good. It showed the confidence and the belief that we felt good about our opening 40. We did have a little adversity and a couple of mistakes, but we kept it going and our players found a way to get it done. ”

In the second half, that consistency fueled Steamboat’s comeback. Steamboat junior Mac Noel, who had missed a penalty kick in the first half, cut Summit’s lead in half after taking a long pass from teammate Enrique Lopez and hammering a bouncing ball into the back of the net seven minutes into the half.

A few minutes later, Lopez got a goal of his own after taking a throw-in from teammate Hanson Buchner, making a quick turn and firing a shot over the outstretched arms of Summit goalkeeper Noah Glasco.

Ostrom put the Sailors up for good at the 20-minute mark by heading the ball into the back of the net after getting a nearly perfect pass from Buchner on a corner kick.

“After this game, everybody will be pumped up to play,” Ostrom said. “We know that even if we get down a few goals, we can always come back.”

Summit coach Matt Zeiset was pleased with his team’s effort and impressed by Steamboat’s comeback.

“A two-goal lead can be pretty dangerous,” Zeiset said. “You give up one goal, and it gets pretty tricky. Your players’ confidence can be lost and at that point everybody starts wondering what to do and looking around for leadership. It was good of Steamboat to keep their heads up and to keep fighting. It was a good battle.”

It was Summit’s (a team that plays the Jefferson County League) second loss to a Western Slope team in a week. The Tigers lost another 2-1 heartbreaker to Battle Mountain on Sept. 1 after leading that contest most of the way.

Tuesday’s win was the first game of the season for the Sailors, who will head to Glenwood Springs on Thursday to take on the Demons in a Western Slope League contest.

“This league is wide open again with us, Battle Mountain, Glenwood and Eagle Valley, ” Bohlmann said. “Glenwood is coming off of two none-league wins., so they are taking a lot of momentum into that game. Obviously, we will take some into that game, so we are looking forward to it.

Game statistics

Summit County: 2-0 — 2

Steamboat Springs: 0-3 — 3

First half: 1, Summit County, Connor Hebert, 11:15. 2, Summit County, Mark Nowakiwisky, 48:00.

Second half: 3, Steamboat Springs, Mac Noel (Enrique Lopez), 6:59. 4, Steamboat Springs, Enrique Lopez (Hanson Buchner), 17:25. 5, Steamboat Springs, Lance Ostrom (Hanson Buchner), 19:40.

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

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