Steamboat Springs soccer preps for Battle Mountain | SteamboatToday.com

Steamboat Springs soccer preps for Battle Mountain

Luke Graham

Steamboat Springs High School soccer player Johnathon Ricker goes for the ball during Saturday's game against Palisade.

The Steamboat Springs High School soccer team took care of its chores Saturday against Palisade with a nice and tidy 8-0 win.

Now it’s time to get on to the real job Tuesday.

With the win, Steamboat sets up a monumental showdown at Western Slope League-leading Battle Mountain on Tuesday. The winner will have the inside track on a league title.

The two teams played to a scoreless draw at Gardner Field this season.

“I think we’ll do well,” Steamboat’s Andrew White said. “Last time we played them they had a formation we weren’t ready for. We’re more ready now. We’re more experienced.”

After a slow start to Saturday’s game, Steamboat showed some scoring prowess in the second half.

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Staked to just a 2-0 lead after the first 40 minutes, thanks to goals from Enrique Lopez and White, Steamboat exploded offensively in the second half.

Lopez scored in the 43rd minute, and White added two more goals in the 48th and 56th minutes to give Steamboat a 5-0 lead.

Colton Harding, Ben Massey and Connor Birch all chipped in goals in the last 20-plus minutes to give Steamboat the easy win.

But Saturday’s game was just a footnote in the big picture.

Scoring eight goals is nice, but come Tuesday, scoring chances figure to be few and far between.

“Tuesday is huge,” Birch said. “It’s Battle Mountain away. It decides who is on top of the league. A win will be huge for either team. It’s always a competitive environment. It’s going to come down to the passion and the drive. It’s going to come down to who wants it more.”

For Steamboat (5-2-3 overall, 5-0-3 in league play) the game will probably be decided on whether the Sailors can convert their opportunities.

Looking for a scoring identity all year, the Sailors may have started to uncover something recently.

With White and Lopez playing up front, Steamboat looks to have a tough one-two punch, as the two combined on several clever goals Saturday.

“I like Enrique and I up top,” White said. “There were a lot of good combination plays. We can work it back and forth and eventually score.”

But coach Rob Bohlmann said the two would not necessarily play in those spots Tuesday. He said the tempo of the game and what Battle Mountain does will dictate who plays where.

Nevertheless, Bohlmann said he’s excited for the opportunity to play another meaningful game against a quality opponent like Battle Mountain.

“The biggest thing we’ve been talking about since Eagle is every game, every day is an opportunity,” he said. “Now we have the opportunity to script this thing out for a league title. We got three points (Saturday), and that keeps us in that realm of possibilities. We’re two points behind them. It’s a good opportunity to see what we can do.”