Steamboat's Peter White races for the ball Thursday night against Battle Mountain. Steamboat got several chances late in the game and cut into the Huskies' lead, but it couldn't tie things up, falling 3-2.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat's Peter White races for the ball Thursday night against Battle Mountain. Steamboat got several chances late in the game and cut into the Huskies' lead, but it couldn't tie things up, falling 3-2.

Battle Mountain again eludes Steamboat soccer

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— Since the team first took the field in late August, two words have rung louder than any others among Steamboat Springs High School soccer players.

Battle Mountain.

Steamboat senior Peter White told a local radio station his season goal is to beat the Huskies. Before Thursday night’s game, captain Joe Dobell screamed to his fellow seniors that it was their last chance to unseat the champs.

But on a night that the temperatures plunged into the low 30s and snow coated Gardner Field, the Sailors saw their chance slip away with a loss, 3-2. It was the Huskies’ sixth win against Steamboat since 2009, and their second this year.

For Battle Mountain, it meant pushing its record to a superb 9-1 in its quest to defend its 4A state championship. For Steamboat, it simply meant surviving, as the Sailors’ playoff chances took a big hit and the seniors’ opportunity to knock off their rivals vanished.

“They really took it to heart,” Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann said. “They put in a great effort. They’re disappointed because they really care and they’ve really prepared well for this. We just came up in the end a goal short.”

The Huskies struck first off the pretty footwork of Alexis Robles to slide one past Steamboat keeper Jake Anderson. But in the 36th minute, Sailors senior Carter Kounovsky crushed one to the back of the net off White’s miss for the 1-1 equalizer heading into halftime.

Battle Mountain, however, quickly asserted itself early in the second half. The Huskies challenged Andersen four times very early, and four times the Steamboat junior answered. But on the fifth challenge, in the 51st minute, Battle Mountain’s Tony Luevanos finally snuck one by for the 2-1 Husky lead.

“We just felt comfortable with what we were doing, even when they got the equalizer,” Battle Mountain coach David Cope said. “We felt like we were playing well and we didn’t want to change anything. The big message at halftime was be calm, be patient, it’ll happen.”

And it did happen, again, just five minutes later when Huskies leading scorer Roberto Diaz displayed some nifty footwork and found the back of the net for the 3-1 lead.

Steamboat senior midfielder Michael Wong headed in a goal off a feed by White in the 70th minute, but the 3-2 lead proved to be enough for the Huskies.

The disappointing loss, which sank Steamboat to a 5-3-1 league record with three games remaining, somewhat overshadowed an individual performance by Andersen that left Bohlmann saying he’s the best keeper in the 4A Western Slope league.

“He’s phenomenal,” Wong said about Andersen’s game-high 12 saves. “If the ball gets back there, you know Jake is probably going to make a save. If not, he’s going to scrap for it. He’s always lifting everyone up, too, which is nice.”

And the emotional lift, Wong said, is crucial as the team tries to scrape together three wins to make the playoffs, but they’ll need help.

“We just have to look at the reality of things,” Wong said. “Not too many of us are going to go on past high school and play soccer. We’re here with each other, we’ve got three more weeks left, let’s just have fun. These are memories for a lifetime.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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