Playoff bound: Steamboat soccer draws No. 29 seed

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— The Steamboat Springs High School soccer team needed three-straight wins and a lot of help in order to get a shot at playing for the 4A state championship.

The Sailors took care of business, got their help, and on Sunday found out that they drew the No. 29 seed in the 4A state bracket. But a tall order awaits Steamboat on Wednesday.

Steamboat will square off with No. 4 seed Denver North on Wednesday. Denver North finished the season, 14-1, with its only loss coming via a 3-2 overtime slip-up to 5A playoff qualifier George Washington.

No matter the stiff challenge in the first round, Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann said his team proved itself worthy of the playoff bid.

“We’re really excited that we’re in,” Bohlmann said. “This group is very deserving of a spot in the playoffs. They’ve earned it.”

Steamboat closed out the season on a three-game win streak, including a playoff-clinching win against No. 21 seed Summit last Thursday.

A number of factors helped Steamboat’s chances at making the playoffs, despite finishing the season 9-5-1 and fourth in the final league standings. The Sailors battled with five playoff qualifiers during the 2013 season, including one-goal losses to No. 8 seed Battle Mountain and No. 7 seed Evergreen.

Battle Mountain winning last year’s 4A state championship was a big boost, too, in gaining notoriety for the Western Slope League, Bohlmann said.

“This season, our competitive league play, that has paid off,” Bohlmann said. “The respect that was shown in the draw for this year's tournament was awesome.”

Bohlmann admitted that they don’t know much about their Denver North opponent, a team who dominated during its 14 wins by an average of more than three goals per contest.

In their final league showing, a 1-0 win against Summit, the Sailors used a modified defensive alignment that countered a fast, physical style of play. Bohlmann said his group may go with the same tactic.

And in any event, the longtime Sailors coach said his battle-tested group won’t make the trip to Denver on Wednesday with a “we’re just happy to be here” attitude.

“In the playoffs, anything can happen,” Bohlmann said. “It’s not like we’re just going to go down and only give it our best shot.”

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

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