Steamboat Springs There was a series in the second half of the Steamboat Springs High School’s Saturday game against Rifle that explained it all. It showcased why the Sailors were en route to a big win and why the Bears had so much trouble stopping that freight train.
Steamboat’s John Vande Velde screamed down the field in front of his defender, 40, then 30, then 20 yards from the goal.
He already had scored once, helping Steamboat to a 3-0 halftime lead, and he had a chance to score again.
“But the goalie came out,” he said. “I didn’t have a great angle.”
So, he passed to Peter White, a few yards farther up the field and closer to the goal.
He, too, already had scored, and he, too, had a chance at another goal.
Instead, he also passed, giving it up for an even better opportunity. He tapped the ball back to the middle of the field, in front of a charging Rifle goalie, but also in front of Steamboat sophomore Will Petersen. Petersen won the race, slipped the ball by before catapulting over the goalie and, climbing to his knees, threw up his arms in celebration as the ball rolled in.
The goal gave Steamboat a 4-0 lead that ended up as the final score, improving the Sailors to 3-0 on the season.
“We weren’t playing selfish and we worked together as a team,” Vande Velde said. “We figured out how to get through their defense and once we figured out that, we kept hammering them.”
Steamboat got goals from Vande Velde, who put the Sailors on the board by burying a pass from Hanson Buchner in the left side of the goal, from White and, late in the first half, from Buchner.
They did it with breakaway runs, but more frustrating for the Bears, with swift passes that required a disciplined defensive effort to blunt.
Rifle wasn’t disciplined Saturday, and for a 40-minute section of the game bridging the two halves, it gave up all four goals.
“You have to be patient,” Rifle coach Rich Carter said. “You can’t just dive in there to get it because they’ll slip a pass to another guy. You need to contain.”
The Bears threatened on several occasions, playing well both early in the game and late. They couldn’t generate enough shots, however, and couldn’t get one in.
Despite the final score, the Bears saw some positives.
“We had a bunch of breakdowns, but when you look at the positive parts, we moved the ball well, we used our speed well and we got some good shots on goal,” Carter said. “Steamboat’s known for its soccer, so coming away 4-0 having played the way we did, it’s encouraging.”