Steamboat Springs High School senior Hanson Buchner takes a penalty shot to give the Sailors the lead during the second half of Saturday’s game against Palisade High School. The Sailors won, 4-2.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs High School senior Hanson Buchner takes a penalty shot to give the Sailors the lead during the second half of Saturday’s game against Palisade High School. The Sailors won, 4-2.

Steamboat Springs soccer rallies to beat Palisade

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— Hanson Buchner has a regulation-size soccer net in his backyard, and the Steamboat Springs High School senior has spent the better part of his summers out shooting from every angle.

Especially penalty kicks.

It certainly paid dividends Saturday, as Buchner’s penalty kick in the 74th minute propelled Steamboat to a 4-2 win against Palisade in a must-win game.

“Over the last four years, I’ve probably taken 1,000 penalty shots,” Buchner said. “It’s every day in the summer. It’s just shooting and getting better. I was comfortable but nervous.”

The game, however, wasn’t without controversy. In a rugged and physical second half, the two teams were tied at 2 when the penalty kick was called on Palisade after a Steamboat corner kick.

The Bulldogs sideline erupted in protest, and apparently for good reason.

“It wasn’t a hand ball,” Buchner conceded. “It hit off the kid's head. But you have to take what you get. If the refs call a hand ball, you take it as an opportunity and put it in the back of the net.”

Steamboat made the call a moot point in the 77th minute, when Alex Alfone deflected a cross into the box that made for the final result.

The Sailors had control for much of the first half, possessing the ball and playing organized soccer at times.

Buchner got it started in the sixth minute on an assist from Peter White for a 1-0 lead.

But Palisade’s dynamite forward Marques Combs took a long ball from Joe Talbott in the 13th and finished it to tie it at 1.

Ryan Walker gave Steamboat a 2-1 lead in the 19th on a beautiful shot just outside the box before Combs struck again on a header in the 34th to send it tied at 2-all at half.

In a sloppy and physical second half, Steamboat started to press forward at the 70-minute mark.

After a 4-2 loss to Palisade earlier in the season, a tie essentially meant a loss for Steamboat.

The Sailors moved defenseman Peyton Trask forward and started to press.

“We were going to play for the win,” Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. “It was a bit of a gamble because (Combs) was very quick and dangerous throughout the whole game. But we weren’t playing for the tie.”

The result means Steamboat is one step closer to a playoff spot. The win moved the Sailors two games ahead of the Bulldogs for the third and final playoff spot in the Western Slope League.

Steamboat has home games with Moffat County and Glenwood Springs and a trip to Summit left on the schedule.

The Sailors (7-5 overall, 6-4 in league play) view all of them as must-wins.

“It adds more pressure because we have to treat every game like a playoff game to make the playoffs,” Buchner said. “The takeaway from this game is the three points and a win.”

Steamboat next plays at 6 p.m. Thursday at home against Moffat County.

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

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