Sailor soccer looks for redemption, playoff spot in rematch with Battle Mountain
Steamboat Springs — If the Steamboat Springs High School boys soccer team could have one half of soccer back, it would no doubt be the first 40 minutes of its 6-4 loss at home to Battle Mountain on Sept. 8.
In that game, the third of the season for the Sailors, they gave up a goal in the first minute of play and trailed 4-1 at halftime. Even a strong second half, in which they outscored the Huskies 3-2, wasn’t enough to salvage their poor play early on.
“We talk before every practice to have a stronger start than our opponent, and that wasn’t the case in our first game,” SSHS senior Ross Stuart said. “We’d like to get redemption on them from our loss here at home. We came out slow, but with our last few practices, we feel we’ve done really good in what we are doing. We can definitely come out strong (Thursday) and beat Battle Mountain.”
The rematch takes place at 6 p.m. today in Edwards, the regular-season finale for both teams. There’s a lot riding on the outcome for the Sailors, although as it turns out, a league championship isn’t part of it. Both teams are 12-2 overall, with Battle Mountain (10-1 Western Slope) sitting a game ahead of SSHS (9-2) in league play.
The best Steamboat can hope for with a win is a tie atop the standings with the Huskies, who would ultimately win the tiebreaker no matter the score of today’s game.
The first tiebreaker is head-to-head, and a Steamboat win today would mean they split the season series. The second tiebreaker is a head-to-head with the next highest opponent, in this case, Eagle Valley (8-3 league), which both teams have split against. The final tiebreaker is goals against, with Battle Mountain easily ahead of Steamboat.
“There is no way we could make up the goal deficit,” SSHS coach Rob Bohlmann said. “If we beat them, they have still locked in first place because of the tie breakers. But to tie with the same record as Battle Mountain would be a huge accomplishment and would solidify us in second place, above Eagle, and really would create a case for us to have a home playoff game.”
While a league title isn’t in the mix, a win today would mean an automatic playoff spot for the Sailors. Currently, four teams are competing for three automatic bids, and despite an impressive record, the Sailors don’t want to leave anything to chance with regard to their postseason.
“We feel pretty good about it, but if you don’t get that automatic spot, then nothing is guaranteed,” Bohlmann said. “Win, lose or draw, you want to play well.”
The Sailors will have a good picture of where they sit for the playoffs following Thursday’s game against Battle Mountain but won’t know their fate officially until the weekend, most likely Sunday. With 12-3 as the worst-case scenario, SSHS is still in a good position for a playoff spot, even without the automatic bid.
“I don’t know if it will be the first time, but we’d definitely like to make it the first time,” Stuart said of possibly hosting a playoff game. “We just want to play for each other and show everyone what Steamboat soccer is like, because it’s definitely a great program.”
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