Steamboat soccer players settle into roles heading into second half of league play
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There are a lot of ways to tell October is near. The leaves change overnight, the mornings are almost cold enough for snow, and the cool, afternoon breeze offsets the sun beating down on Gardner Field.
For the Steamboat Springs High School soccer team, October is a time when the pieces come together, and the intensity heightens as the Sailors take on their second half of Western Slope League play.
“It’s pretty straightforward,” assistant varsity coach Brandon Gallegos said. “We’ve had a great season, but as you head into October, it’s a whole different ball game.”
The Sailors struggled last week on the road, losing a 7-2 face-off with rival Battle Mountain and tying Summit, 3-3. Following a win at Wheat Ridge, 4-1, the Sailors lost in a heartbreaking fashion at home this week to Glenwood Springs, 4-3.
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The Sailors had built a 3-1 lead by halftime, but the momentum shifted in the second.
“After half, we got too overconfident with it, and the lead went slowly towards Glenwood’s side,” senior Quinn Connell said. “We can’t do anything about it now. We moved past it pretty quick. It was just a stinger at the time.”
Junior Kevin Kaster nods his head, saying it could’ve gone either way.
Connell and Kaster are varsity veterans, eager to take the Sailors to the next step, which would mean going further than the second round of playoffs.
And they’re willing to do anything to get there, like taking alternating reps at defense.
“I usually don’t play defense, but I’ve been playing defense a lot this year,” Kaster said. “Being the last line of defense is important between the goalie and everyone else, keeping that line sturdy and clean. But there’s pressure because if you get the ball in the back, and you lose in the net, it’s pretty upsetting. If you lose in midfield, you have other people behind you.”
Connell is tied with junior Daniel Lopez as the team’s second leading scorer with six goals. As a senior midfielder, he’s taken on a leadership role in the midfield.
“For the past two years I’ve been on varsity, I was like the smallest kid,” Connell said. “I was one of the more quiet kids trying to keep my position and not really be a leader, but this year, I’ve tried to step up my communication to be more of a leader.”
Selflessness is one part of being a leader, but it’s also their skill set that sets them apart.
“Those guys are both super versatile,” Gallegos said. “They’ll do anything that’s asked of them for the team, and the fact they have the talent to play both positions, that speaks a lot for them as players and as men.”
But there’s something to be said about the younger ones coming through the ranks, like junior Oliver Capparelli.
Capparelli has scored two goals this season, one in the 11-1 win over Palisade, and one against Battle Mountain, the top team in the Western Slope League. Gallegos said he leads by example through his work ethic and the improvement has shown on the field.
“The biggest transition is the work rate of varsity versus JV and definitely connecting more passes and seeing more of the ball,” Capparelli said. “It was really sweet to get those goals. I hope to keep scoring, and I’m working on my finishing.”
With the loss to Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springs moves to No. 3 in the Western Slope League heading into October. But there’s no sense in dwelling on the past when there’s a lot of competition ahead.
“The most important thing is to focus on ourselves,” Connell said. “When we play to our full potential and are in the flow of it, we’re a super good team. I don’t think anyone in Western Slope or most good teams in the state can stop us when we’re in our rhythm.”
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