Steamboat downs Huskies, 5-2 |

Steamboat downs Huskies, 5-2

Melinda Mawdsley
John Russell/Special to the Daily Battle Mountain's Julia Burnett (14) fires a crossing pass during Wednesday's 4A Slope showdown with Steamboat Springs in Steamboat. The Sailors won, 5-2, to take control of the title chase.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS – The mood was loose. Both the Steamboat Springs and Battle Mountain soccer teams were laughing and joking around during pregame ball drills.

Then, the whistle blew, and the Sailors put together their best first-half effort of the season, and arguably their best 40 minutes of soccer in four years en route to Wednesday’s 5-2 win against the Huskies.”The game was won in the first 20 minutes as far as their tone and level of play,” Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said.The win gives the Sailors (9-1-1 overall, 9-0-1 in league) sole possession of first place in the Western Slope League standings. The win also avenges an early-season 1-1 tie with Battle Mountain.”We came out strong.” Sailors senior Ann Barney said. “We were all a little nervous, but there was some confidence. You have to be confident.”The Huskies (10-1-1 and 9-1-1) were understandably upset with the result after all the expectations of the two teams’ second meeting of the year.They were devastated, but you want to coach girls like that who have such high expectations, Huskies coach David Cope said. This game doesnt change how we feel about them. The record doesnt lie 10-1-1 is awfully good. We feel so happy to coach girls who are so committed to the gameSailors strike earlySteamboat attacked early and often during Wednesdays game at the Christian Heritage School fields, but the Sailors didnt get on the board until senior Kelly Labors penalty kick 14 minutes in. Senior Casey Garth drew the foul in the box.Battle Mountains Kelsey Sanders evened the score one minute later on Steamboats only big defensive miscue of the first half. Teammate Julia Burnett got the assist.Instead of letting down, the Sailors upped their intensity, converting a corner kick at the 22-minute mark. Barney headed the ball past Battle Mountain keeper Kori Landauer. Labor got the assist with her corner kick.Weve been working on finishing, Barney said. Rob keeps stressing that its a mentality.Sophomore Carly Earp scored what turned out to be the game winner with five minutes left in the first half off a rebound. Labors initial shot was a rocket on a straight line toward Landauer, who couldnt hang on.I thought we gave them a touch too much respect early in the first half and sat back, Cope said. I was really proud of how the girls didnt give up in the second half.The Huskies put consistent pressure on the Sailors in the second half before Sanders got behind Steamboats defense with nine minutes remaining for her second goal. Emily LyBarger was given the assist.Finishing blowWith the tying goal in range, Cope pulled Kelly Bowles off her man-man with Labor and subbed in another attacker.We made a decision, and as coaches we have to take ownership for that, Cope said. We were urging all our players to get forward and get connected with Jules and Kelsey. Of course with the risk of throwing your numbers forward was that they would counterattack. … We felt confident that if we got that third goal, and sent it into overtime that we would win the game.The game remained close until junior Lauren Letson gave the Sailors a two-goal lead with her score off another rebound with four minutes left. Junior Betty Sasak fired the initial shot.We wanted to come out here and do what we know how to do, Letson said. We work a lot on following through, sticking with the shot, not turning around and giving up.Labor, draped in Battle Mountain defenders for 70 minutes, got all the separation she needed, scoring Steamboats final goal in the closing minutes.Its too bad we dont have more games like this, Bohlmann said.Cope shared similar sentiments.The two games against Steamboat were the only ones weve had this year that have been competitive at halftime, he said.Battle Mountain moves into second place in the league, but the Huskies and Sailors are clearly the class of the Slope and the Western Colorado. Steamboat has little time to celebrate Wednesdays win. The Sailors host Eagle Valley at 4 p.m. today at the Christian Heritage School fields west of town.Battle Mountain plays Eagle Valley at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Gypsum.Vail, Colorado

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