Devils soccer downs Steamboat in overtime

Eagle Valley's Noel Ruiz, left, scores the Devils' first goal on a penalty kick against Steamboat goal keeper Andrew McCawley during the first half in Gypsum Tuesday. The Devils defeated the Sailors, 3-2, in overtime.
Anthony Thornton | |

GYPSUM — Really, Eagle Valley soccer just wants the season to keep going and going.

The Devils knocked down another of the Slope’s giants with a 3-2 win over Steamboat Springs on a golden goal by freshman Nikolaus Opel three minutes into overtime on Tuesday night at Hot Stuff Stadium.

“It’s indescribable,” Opel said. “The whole team worked hard all game, so you have to give it to the entire team.”

With the win, Eagle Valley, having already slain the dragon that was Battle Mountain, added a program-changing victory over the Sailors. And in the process, Eagle Valley may have done in Steamboat’s playoff chances.

“I’m a believer of winning is a habit, and we need to start doing that,” Devils coach Bratzo Horruitiner said. “It’s great to see the guys playing well against a good team. That’s the sport. We’re trying to compete against good teams, and this is what we need to do to take it to the next level.”

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The Sailors (8-5-1 overall and 7-4-1 in the 4A Slope) are trying to nab a bid to the postseason. While it’s hard to get into the collective mind of the seeding committee, the loss prevents Steamboat from getting to 10 wins, a nice round number, for the season.

Steamboat Springs wraps the season with a rivalry game on Thursday at Moffat County.

“I have absolutely no idea,” Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann said. “It’s competitive sports. You have to fight through the tough patches. There’s no other way. We will regroup tomorrow and prepare for a strong finish on Thursday and see where the chips fall.”

Seeing red

Things looked fine early for the Sailors. Charlie Beurskens fed Cruz Archuleta for Steamboat’s first goal in the 12th minutes. Two minutes later, Beurskens gave his team a 2-0 lead and all was well.

Or not.

Eagle Valley’s Noel Ruiz was dragged down in the box and got the call. He ripped his penalty kick into the net to halve the lead. In the 19th, the Devils’ Aaron Ledezma deked two defenders down the left side and had an equally amazing finish, and the teams would be tied at two until overtime.

Worth noting was that this was a chippy game on both sides. In fairness, neither side seemed too pleased with the officiating. The two teams nearly got into it at halftime, only to be separated by the official and coaches.

Ledezma and Steamboat’s Will Petersen both got red cards with 4:24 left in regulation; Ledezma for a takeout of Petersen and Petersen for retaliation.

Steamboat Springs had the majority of the chances, but couldn’t capitalize, a them for the Sailors this year.

Credit Eagle Valley’s Colin Rouaud with a spectacular one-handed save in the first half. Credit Eagle Valley’s defense for clearing two shots off the line in the second.

Winning formula

In the end, Ruiz got a free kick outside of the box to the left three minutes into the first overtime.

“I saw that the defender was marking in front, leaving space behind,” Opel said. “If (Noel) dropped the ball in, it would be easy to get, and that’s exactly what happened. I’m happy it did.”

Opel buried it, and bedlam ensued for the Devils (6-7-1, 5-5-1). Not only is Steamboat one of the “big three” in the Slope (Summit County and Battle Mountain), but the Sailors pounded the Devils 6-0 at Hot Stuff just two years earlier.

“We are chasing Summit now,” Horruitiner said. “We are really trying to build a program now. We believe in the kids. The kids believe in us. We are learning from our mistakes and playing better every week, regardless of the result.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, and @cfreud.

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