Glenwood nips Sailors to win league soccer title
All season, Glenwood Springs kept tabs on the soccer happenings in Steamboat Springs and vice versa.
As weeks passed, the two teams separated themselves from the pack setting up the expected – a season-finale match for the league title.
The highly anticipated match ended Tuesday afternoon when the Demons left Steamboat’s Dudley Field with a 3-2 win and sole possession of the Western Slope League championship.
“For years it’s been Steamboat and Glenwood,” said Demon coach Steve White. “We knew it would be interesting to see the two best teams determine the league title.”
Caught flat-footed at the outset of the game, Steamboat found itself down quickly following Cassie Carlson’s free-kick goal around the 5:00 mark.
Steamboat goalie Kelly Asbury had her hands on the ball, but it appeared to take a weird spin off her gloves on the rebound and slipped over her head into the net.
Following the game, an ecstatic White said his team fell victim to a similar play in its tie with Rifle earlier in the season.
“Those breaks happen,” he said. “But that’s why we keep playing.”
The Sailors responded quickly, netting their own unexpected goal roughly five minutes later. Wedged into the right corner of the field, Steamboat’s Anya Allen said she meant to deliver a centering pass toward the back post and a cutting Lia Utu.
Her pass missed the intended mark, but it zipped into the side of the net opposite Allen for the score.
The Demons, however, continued their aggressive attack and moved back into the lead several minutes later when Ashley Holtum got behind the defense and scored her team’s second goal.
The Sailors, plagued by sketchy passing and poor ball control, couldn’t establish a solid attack for the remaining 28 minutes and trailed 2-1 at the half and never regained the lead.
“We played sloppy, unmethodical soccer in the first half,” said Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann. “Not to take anything away from their play, but we made them look good. We were playing hard, but not playing smart mentally.”
At the half, Bohlmann said he delivered a brief message – keep it simple.
It appeared to take hold as the Sailors passed much better and assembled a more organized attack in the final 40 minutes.
But the Demons were unwilling to surrender the lead and the league title. The tough breaks continued for the Sailors, who had several shots miss just wide or hit the crossbar.
Meanwhile, Glenwood Springs added an insurance goal nearly 12 minutes in when Chelsea Strautman drilled her free kick over the head of a fully extended Asbury.
The goal proved essential because Nikki Garth pulled the Sailors to within one on a penalty kick with less than 10 minutes remaining.
That goal sparked a flurry of action for the Sailors offensively, but the Demons were able to hang on for the win.
“I knew we had to play defense for the final 10 minutes,” White said. “We kept switching our forwards to keep their legs fresh so we had some offense, but the keys to the game were possessions and defense.”
The league-champion Demons will host a 4A Regional match on Saturday, against the No. 4 team from the Northern/Mile High League.
Steamboat will have to put the disappointing loss in the back of its minds quickly. Despite the defeat to Glenwood, Bohlmann said it was his understanding that Sailors will still host an opening round playoff game this week against Legacy, the No. 2 team from the Skyline league.
The Sailors will also get senior Julie Wernig back. She was forced to miss Tuesday’s game after receiving her third yellow card of the season against Palisade on April 27.
Rifle, meanwhile, slipped into the third and final playoff spot from the 4A Western Slope League, courtesy of Battle Mountain.
The Huskies ousted Palisade from that final playoff position with a 3-2 overtime win Tuesday night in Eagle-Vail.
Battle Mountain’s Kelly Casber scored from 40 yards out, helped by a strong tailwind, in the second overtime period.
The teams had played to a 1-1 first-half tie. Melissa Thate opened the scoring for Palisade, taking a pass from Jessica Sargent.
Heidi Lauterbach evened the match for Battle Mountain. Then she gave the Huskies a 2-1 lead with her second goal early in the second half.
An on-field altercation, resulting in two red cards – one for Battle Mountain and one for Palisade – marred the second half.
Kendra Nash finally tied the match for the Bulldogs with a crucial goal off a corner kick, forcing overtime.
After the first scoreless five-minute OT, Battle Mountain ended the season for Palisade on Casber’s goal and the 3-2 victory.
With the loss the Bulldogs dropped to 5-5-0 in the Western Slope League, falling just behind Rifle and the Bears’ 5-3-2 record.
Rifle’s two ties came against the league’s No. 1 and 2 teams, Steamboat and Glenwood.
The Bears, as the No. 3 qualifier from the Western Slope League, will travel to the No. 2 team from the Colorado Springs Metro League in the 4A Regionals this weekend.
That opponent likely will come from the group of teams that include Liberty, Pine Creek, Lewis-Palmer and Cheyenne Mountain.
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The brackets are set for the 12-team 4A girls lacrosse state championships, and the Roaring Fork Rams are dancing as the No. 9 seed.