Steamboat Springs High School senior Ryan Walker heads the ball during Thursday's game against Rifle High School.

Photo by Matt Stensland

Steamboat Springs High School senior Ryan Walker heads the ball during Thursday's game against Rifle High School.

Steamboat soccer blasts Rifle in shutout

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— In a word, consistency is what is standing between Steamboat Springs High School soccer and its ultimate team goal, captain Joe Dobell said.

On Thursday night, the Sailors consistently poured in goal after goal in a 6-0 drubbing of Rifle at Gardner Field. It was a step in the right direction for Steamboat, Dobell said, as the Sailors picked up a critical league win a day after first-place Battle Mountain lost its first game of the season.

“With five games left, we’re in a pretty good place,” Steamboat assistant coach Casey Barnett said. “With Battle Mountain losing last night and this win, we’re looking at a better position than we were at in the beginning of the week.”

Five Sailors found the back of the net in Thursday night’s win. Peter White found Carter Kounovsky in the 22nd minute, and then White fed an assist to Nathan DePuy 11 minutes later to extend the Steamboat lead to 2-0.

White got into the scoring himself in the 36th minute, just before DePuy’s second goal in the waning seconds of the first half. With a 4-0 lead going into half, the Steamboat coaching staff took advantage of the opportunity to empty the Sailors bench and get some reserves some valuable minutes.

Reserves Collin Pence, Devin de Jong, Bobby Marshall Henry and freshman goalie Andrew McCawley all started the second half and marched Steamboat to victory in the final 40 minutes.

In the 53rd minute, Henry was awarded a penalty kick and knocked it past Rifle keeper David Salgado as the Steamboat bench erupted in cheers.

“They are proud to see some of their teammates who work extremely hard in practice, who may not see all that much playing time, get some good results,” Barnett said. “They know that they all deserve it and they’re cheering for them every chance they get. That’s how you know it’s a strong team.”

Grant Verploeg sealed the game with a 67th-minute goal off his own rebound, effectively wrapping up the Sailors’ third shutout of the year. Since the beginning of last season, Steamboat has outscored the Bears 21-0 through four contests.

The win improved Steamboat to 5-2-1 in league play, inching the Sailors closer to leaders Delta, Summit and Battle Mountain. Since Battle Mountain’s loss, only one game separates the top four contenders in the 4A Western Slope standings.

The Sailors will leave for Lafayette on Friday for a nonleague, Saturday morning game at Centaurus before hosting Battle Mountain on Thursday. Players and coaches alike insist they won’t be looking past Saturday in anticipation for that league showdown at Gardner Field.

“Centaurus is going to be pretty much as hard as Battle Mountain will be,” Dobell said. “We have to come into Centaurus with that same mentality. It’s an exciting game for us. We see it as another Battle Mountain game almost.”

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

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