Steamboat soccer readies to defend league title |

Steamboat soccer readies to defend league title

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs High School junior Tommy Lyon blocks a shot during practice Thursday. The team was the Western Slope League champion last season.

— As Steamboat Springs High School coach Rob Bohlmann surveyed the field Thursday, he was asked how he planned to replace the eight seniors from last season's Western Slope League championship team.

Bohlmann, always analytical, smiled and simply made a little correction.

"I think it was six seniors, actually," Bohlmann said. "But there was a lot of quality in there. Maybe that's where you're getting that number."

But the conversation spoke to what the Steamboat boys soccer team faces this season. The cupboard certainly isn't bare. It never is in Steamboat, where the team has one of the best feeder programs in the area.

The Sailors return two key contributors from last season's team in junior Enrique Lopez and senior Christopher Holmquist.

Bohlmann said because of that, the goals of the season have yet to be defined.

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"I think first and foremost it's going to have to start with defending as a group," Bohlmann said. "Then from there, I think it just comes back to how we define ourselves. The reason I say group defending is we have a very athletic group, a strong group, a group that has the ingredients to defend well."

It also has one of the more creative players in the league in Lopez. Even as a sophomore last season, Lopez was able to crack the lineup and use his unique playing style to draw defenders, score goals and set up goals.

Lopez enters this year as one of the more successful scorers in the Western Slope League. Despite just being a junior, he's already looking to take a leadership role.

"That's one of my goals is to get as many goals as I can," Lopez said. "I want to be a leader."

Despite the questions surrounding the soccer team, Bohlmann said he expects the league to mirror last season.

During the 2009 season, the Western Slope League was all about parity. One-goal games, overtime, ties and splits home and away defined the season.

Steamboat had to wait hours after it wrapped up a game to hear that Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain had tied before learning it had won the league title. The league should get more interesting this year with Rifle dropping down to Class 3A, meaning there only are 10 league games, one against each opponent at home and one on the road.

"I think it's going to be an identical situation to where the league was last year," Bohlmann said. "The league was as exciting as it has been in a long time. Teams were beating each other home and away. There were a lot of ties and a lot of games decided in the final moments."

Steamboat should find out its strengths relatively quickly. The team plays Grand Junction Central, Summit and Glenwood Springs to open the season — three respectable programs.

From there, the team will start looking at and redefining goals.

"The expectation is still to make the playoffs, and we're still in the running in the league," Holmquist said. "We might not be as strong physically or technically, but we're more connected on the field. The key is to stay mentally focused, because I feel like when a lot of kids on our team get frustrated, they can't focus. It's strictly mental this year."

2010 boys soccer schedule

Steamboat Springs High School

Saturday vs. Grand Junction, 3 p.m.

Sept. 7 at Summit, 6 p.m.

Sept. 9 vs. Glenwood Springs, 6 p.m.

Sept. 11 vs. Salida, 1 p.m.

Sept. 16 vs. Moffat County, 6 p.m.

Sept. 18 at Battle Mountain, noon

Sept. 21 at Glenwood Springs, 6 p.m.

Sept. 25 at Centaurus, 10 a.m.

Sept. 28 vs. Palisade, 6 p.m.

Oct. 2 vs. Eagle Valley, 1 p.m.

Oct. 8 at Palisade, 4 p.m.

Oct. 14 vs. Battle Mountain, 6 p.m.

Oct. 16 at Colorado Academy, noon

Oct. 19 at Eagle Valley, 6 p.m.

Oct. 21 at Moffat County, 4 p.m.

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