Steamboat soccer closes season with shutout, awaits playoff announcement
October 17, 2013
Steamboat Springs — With a potential postseason slot on the line, the Steamboat Springs High School soccer team answered the bell in a playoff atmosphere Thursday night.
After losing to league rival Battle Mountain on Oct. 3, the Sailors needed to close the season with three straight wins if they wanted any shot at the 4A playoffs. Steamboat did just that by edging a battle-tested Summit team, 1-0.
Steamboat now must wait until Sunday afternoon for the final playoff seedings to be arranged by the Colorado High School Activities Association. With Battle Mountain and Montrose having locked up playoff spots and playoff hopeful Durango winning Thursday, things still are foggy for the Sailors.
For Steamboat (9-5-1 overall) on Thursday night, it was "control what we can control," as coach Rob Bohlmann put it, and defensively, the team was in perfect control.
Playing with a modified alignment, setting its two middle-back defenders deeper than usual to stymie a fast, aggressive Summit attack, Steamboat notched its fifth shutout of the season.
"Our whole plan going into the game was, first and foremost defensively, our organization," Bohlmann said. "With the speed of the front-runners they have and their direct style of play, we really looked for our central backs to drop back into that attackable space they were looking to go into."
And in the 19th minute, senior Michael Wong drilled one of the most mesmerizing goals of the year, taking a feed from Peter White and ripping in the lone goal from about 20 yards out.
The senior-to-senior, White-to-Wong connection proved to be the game clincher on senior night.
"It was one of those, when you see it, you can tell the moment it left the foot," Bohlmann said. "You felt the chills going up the back of your spine. He just struck that well."
As has played out for the better part of the regular season, Sailors keeper Jake Andersen, with a wealth of help from middle-back defender Sam Rossman, swallowed up a number of solid looks the Tigers had, especially in the second half.
"The defensive organization and tenacity from the group was really what won the game," Bohlmann said.
A league title never happened, as Battle Mountain clinched that in a 4-2 win Thursday. A few double-overtime losses and a tie also threw a wrench into Steamboat's playoff quest, but the team took care of business with its back against the wall.
Playing alongside his fellow seniors for perhaps the final time, Wong said the team was just having fun, "playing for each other," down the stretch, he said. The team will continue to practice in hopes of hearing its name called Sunday for a chance to compete for a 4A state championship.
"We want to feel confident that we'll get a good playoff seed, but if this season ends tonight, we'll have a good taste in our mouth," Wong said. "No regrets."