No. 10 Steamboat girls soccer upsets No. 7 Durango to advance to second round
DURANGO — The Steamboat Springs High School girls soccer team went into its first-round playoff game against Durango with a trick up their sleeve: an offside trap. The maneuver wasn’t anything the Demons could scout for, since the Sailors had just learned it the day before. They picked up the scheme quickly, though, and used it to deconstruct and discourage the dangerous Durango offense en route to a 2-1 victory Wednesday.
“We studied what the strengths of this group was. They’re a very dangerous team,” head coach Rob Bohlman said. “They played differently than we did but dangerous nonetheless. We wanted to throw them off their game. … So that’s one, but it’s the heart and the grit.”
The win sends Steamboat to the second round, or the quarterfinals, Saturday.
Freshman Darby Martinez put Steamboat up 1-0 in the first half off a pass from senior Jaelie Hovey. The teams spent much of the second half tied at one after a goal from Durango senior Emma Duke sneaked in between Josey Foote’s outstretched hands and the cross bar.
For the next 25 minutes, the game had a sense that whoever scored the next goal would win. There were chances that got the heart rates of fans rising on both sides of the field, but nothing broke through. Foote made save after save, giving her team a fighting chance to be the first team to score two goals against Durango.
Finally, the Demons broke.
Martinez booted the ball toward the goal, but there wasn’t much on it, so a pair of Demons casually crowded the ball and tapped it back to their netminder — except the Durango goalie was moving forward to collect the ball. The tap from her teammates put the ball behind her.
Steamboat junior Peyton Rand took advantage. She dashed toward the ball, got a foot on it and put the Sailors up 2-1 with five minutes to play.
Steamboat’s main tactic was an offside trap, which proved to be useful straight away. An attacking player is considered offside when they receive the ball while closer to the goal line than the second to last defender, including the goalie.
The Sailors defenders played higher up the field or closer to midfield than they usually do, increasing the chance of the Demons being offside.
Durango actually struck first and got the ball past Foote, but the play was waived offside.
Bohlman taught the scheme to the Sailors the day before during their road trip to the southwest corner of the state. They stopped at what is presumably the highest soccer pitch in the continental U.S. in Leadville and learned the trap. How fast they caught on and how well they communicated the tactic was impressive.
“They send in long, dangerous balls and we wanted to null that out,” Bohlman said. “They just didn’t know how to respond or didn’t have enough time to pinpoint how to get in behind.”
Junior Courtney Vargas led the way on the back line, dictating the timing and positioning. Behind her, Foote played the best game of her career. Since the Sailors have a second strong goalie in junior Sam Campbell, Bohlman frequently splits games between the two. With the way Foote was playing, he had no choice but to leave her between the pipes.
“Josey was in rare form tonight,” Bohlman said. “She owned it. She did a fantastic job. When you have a goalkeeper that is playing as solid as that, that gives confidence to the whole group.”
May 4 - at Glenwood Springs, W 3-1
May 8 - at Battle Mountain, W 1-0
May 11 - versus Glenwood Springs, W 2-0
May 21 - at Palisade, W 3-2 (OT)
May 25 - versus Eagle Valley, W 4-1
May 27 - versus Palisade, W 3-0
June 1 - versus Battle Mountain, L 2-1
June 3 - versus Summit, W 1-0
June 5 - at Eagle Valley, W 4-0
June 12 - at Summit, W 6-0
June 16 - First round playoff at No. 7 Durango, W 2-1
June 19 - Second round playoff No. 2 Evergreen, L 3-0
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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Steamboat Springs 2021 graduate Thomas Lewer will always set lofty goals.