Steamboat soccer slips, 1-0, in snowy game |

Steamboat soccer slips, 1-0, in snowy game

Sailors lose in first round of playoffs, end season

Luke Graham

— Steamboat mostly had the run of play, opportunities abounded and the conditions even featured Steamboat’s Champagne Powder.

But the one thing that’s plagued the Steamboat Springs High School boys soccer team for most of the year again reared its ugly head: finding the back of the net.

D’Evelyn scored a fluky goal early in the second half, and Steamboat couldn’t find the back of the net Tuesday during the first round of the Class 4A soccer playoffs, as the No. 22 Jaguars took down the No. 12 Sailors, 1-0.

“This didn’t portray Steamboat soccer,” Sailors goalkeeper Connor Birch said. “That’s what I love about our team is we play through the final whistle. That keeper came up with some great saves. He earned that one.”

Jaguars keeper Joe Kuzminsky certainly did. The sophomore turned away Sailors opportunity after opportunity in the final 20 minutes to keep D’Evelyn in the game.

Kuzminsky made three magnificent saves in the final 15 minutes.

Recommended Stories For You

“It was scary,” D’Evelyn coach Brian Lux said. “Especially giving up four or five corners in a row. Our keeper came up big. We gave them a ton of chances.”

Lux said when his team arrived in Steamboat, the snow seemed to have the opposite effect than might be expected. He said it relaxed his team and allowed members to just go out and play.

“It snows like this in Denver,” he said, “and we don’t play.”

The Jaguars got their opportunity in the 41st minute.

D’Evelyn played the ball forward where Matt Carrera got a pair of touches on the ball and was between two Steamboat defenders. Carrera’s second touch bounced a little more than he wanted, and it looked like it would find Birch’s waiting arms.

But the ball deflected off a Steamboat defender’s foot and past Birch.

“It accidentally got poked, and all my momentum was going forward,” Birch said. “In these conditions, I couldn’t stop it.”

Birch kept the Sailors in the game early in the second half. He made three sprawling saves in the 52nd, 53rd and 61st minutes before Steamboat came alive.

Enrique Lopez ripped two shots in the 64th minute that Kuzminsky punched just over the cross bar.

But Steamboat’s real and best chances came in the final 14 minutes of play.

The first was when Kai Rogers’ header off of a corner kick sailed just outside the left post.

In the 68th minute, Colton Harding hit a shot through the box and traffic that deflected off Kuzminsky and right to Brandon Marr’s feet.

Marr hit a shot that graced the cross bar and moved just out.

Then in the 77th minute, Sam Glaisher found the ball at his feet on the left side. His shot looked like it was in, but Kuzminsky reached behind him and make another spectacular save.

“We did a nice job of keeping some poise,” Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. “They did a nice job, but it was those issues that we struggle with – to find a way to ultimately beat the keeper and put it in the net.”

The loss concludes the season for Steamboat and the careers of Andrew White, Johnathon Ricker, Harding, Tony Rende, Birch, Grant Murray and Glaisher.

The team wraps up the season having won the Western Slope League for the first time since 2001, but Bohlmann said its impact on the program is much deeper than that.

“I really think it’s their hard work, their dedication to soccer and to this program,” he said. “It’s all those strong characteristics that define a great group of players.”