Sailors perfect in league play; seniors lead charge
Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs boys soccer team is experiencing a role reversal.
“It’s nice,” senior Kevin King said after Saturday’s 2-1 victory against Rifle. “We’re finally maturing.”
With Saturday’s win, the Sailors improved to 3-1 overall and 2-0 in Western Slope League play. Those two wins already surpasses last year’s total for the entire league season.
This year’s seniors were undersized and inexperienced their first couple of years on the team. But those same boys are now Western Slope League veterans paired up against young teams such as Rifle, which has lost players to eligibility issues, injuries and the expansion of Coal Ridge High School, Rifle coach Tom Taucher said.
Steamboat’s maturity and experience were needed during Saturday’s win at Gardner Field. The Sailors struggled to maintain possession, which is a staple of their style of play.
“The players were frustrated. The coaches were frustrated,” Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann said. “Not tidy today.”
Nevertheless, Bohlmann said the Sailors would take the win.
The Sailors got on the board first when senior Nick Labor scored with 2 minutes and 55 seconds remaining in the first half. Senior Kevin King was credited with the assist.
“I was watching Labor and the other guys working on the right side,” King said. “He hit me outside of traffic and called for it.”
Labor and senior Sam Houston were making runs up the middle of the field when King’s pass hit Labor in stride. Rifle goalie Brandon Borgard, a freshman, committed to one direction, and Labor fired the ball in the opposite direction.
The Sailors’ second goal came from Houston, who kicked in a rebound off Labor’s initial shot from about 25 yards out. Borgard made the initial stop, but the ball bounced right to Houston.
“I thought our defense played extremely well,” Taucher said. “Kyle Concannon and Garet Babcock were pressing when they needed to. They gave us a chance to win.”
Houston, who also scored some big goals in Steamboat’s win against Vail Mountain School, is a first-year varsity player with the Sailors.
The California transplant moved to town as a sophomore to join the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s snowboarding team, but Houston grew up playing soccer.
Bohlmann said the newcomer has brought a passion and mentality Houston’s teammates and coaches appreciate, even if Houston goes a bit overboard sometimes.
“It’s like off ‘Talladega Nights,’ when that guy says, ‘I’m a winner. I just win,'” Houston said, joking. “I score goals.”
Rifle scored its goal in stoppage time in the second half when Mario Ortega’s corner kick was knocked in by teammate Ryan Melody.
The league season is still young, and this year’s league race is still wide open. Road wins will be at a premium, and defending the home field will be important, Taucher said.
Steamboat has notched one of each. The Sailors’ next game is 5:45 p.m. Tuesday against Eagle Valley at Gardner Field.
Rifle hosts Battle Mountain on Tuesday.
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Steamboat Springs is expected to finish off July with slightly more precipitation than in previous years.