Steamboat soccer stuns Grand Junction in playoff game, advances to second round |

Steamboat soccer stuns Grand Junction in playoff game, advances to second round

Steamboat senior Charlie Welch is lifted into the air by his teammates after a spectacular performance in net against Grand Junction in the first round of the state tournament on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022.
Kenny Reisman/Courtesy photo

For the first time in five years, the Steamboat Springs boys soccer team won a playoff game.

On Thursday, Oct. 27, the No. 23 Sailors snapped their streak in a late-night thriller against No. 10 Grand Junction that came down to penalty kicks. 

A defensive standoff led to a 0-0 tie at the end of the second overtime period. The Sailors were faced with a five-player shootout to determine their fate. Prior to the shootout, head coach Rob Bohlmann offered his players some words of encouragement. 

“When you go into penalties, there’s some skill, there’s some luck, there’s nerves and there’s composure,” Bohlmann said. “We told them, ‘In the end, make or miss, all of us and all your friends and families are going to love you just the same.’”

Senior goalkeeper Charlie Welch defended three of the five Grand Junction kicks, and with Steamboat senior Will Haden and junior Charlie Reisman finding the net, it came down to sophomore Campbell McLaren. 

McLaren said he knew his teammates had his back and their encouragement calmed his nerves and prepared him for the big moment in the game. 

With the team’s season on the line, McLaren gave the ball a light touch and sent a floater to the right side, past the Grand Junction goalkeeper for the victory with a 3-2 advantage in penalty kicks. It was a quirky shot attempt for a penalty kick, but worked out for McLaren and the Sailors. 

“The day before in practice, I just thought I would try one for fun and it went pretty well,” McLaren said. “I remember coach talking to me, and he asked if I would do it in a real game if I had the opportunity. I told him that if I was feeling it, I would, and I was feeling it, so I stepped up and did it.”

Steamboat head coach Rob Bohlmann gives words of encouragement to his team ahead of the deciding penalty kicks in a state tournament match against Grand Junction on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022.
Kenny Reisman/Courtesy photo

In the lead up to the penalty kicks, it was the Steamboat defense and goaltending that kept them in the game. The boys struggled offensively in the first half, so the coaches considered switching from the 5-3-2 formation to a 4-3-3 in hopes of generating more offense for the second half. 

Reisman spoke up and explained that the team strategy has worked for the entire month and wanted to stick to the original game plan. He knew if the team played its own style, the boys would walk away victorious.

“In October, we have only lost one game, so I didn’t think it was necessary for us to change things,” Reisman said.

The defensive tactics worked, especially against a Grand Junction team that averaged 4.14 goals per game in the regular season and scored 16 times in its previous three matches. 

The Steamboat Springs soccer team celebrates a first round state tournament victory over Grand Junction on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. The game came down to penalty kicks with Steamboat earning a 3-2 advantage.
Kenny Reisman/Courtesy photo

Welch earned a regulation shutout and followed that with two scoreless overtime periods. During the penalty kicks, Welch attempted to mess with the kickers by dancing around and making rapid movements around the net. 

“I was just trying to have a little bit of fun,” Welch said. “Especially coming from hockey, penalty kicks are always something that have kind of scared me. I’ve watched Instagrams and YouTube videos about how to save (one) and there’s all these funky things you can do. I was just trying to have some fun, dance on the line a little bit and see if I could get in the head of the Grand Junction kicker.”

Bohlmann alluded to the game being a full team effort and every player made a massive contribution. He said they really earned the win and the team now advances to the second round of the Colorado High School Activities Association Class 4A Boys Soccer State Tournament with a match at No. 7 Niwot on Wednesday, Nov. 2. 

Bohlmann said the ability to recover and get fresh is the key. He plans to give his players the weekend off and wants them to come back ready to practice on Monday. In the meantime, he and the other coaches will start watching Niwot’s film. 

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