Steamboat battles for, earns respect in first-round match

— For the members of the Steamboat Springs soccer team, last Friday night's game against Conifer was about a lot more than just a state title run.

Head coach Rob Bohlmann said it was about gaining respect from the Front Range teams that often look down on teams from outside of their own area.

"This was a lot more than just a state playoff game. We felt like it was our responsibility to earn respect in the state for our team, our league and the entire Western Slope," Bohlmann said.

Steamboat walked onto the field with the No. 11 ranking and a 12-2-1 record. Bohlmann felt as if the team's record deserved a higher ranking in the state playoffs.

Steamboat did gain the respect of the No. 6 Conifer players who were beaten in overtime of a thrilling 3-2 contest.

The game came to an end halfway through an overtime period. Mike Rinn tossed in a long throw in using a flip-style technique. The ball sailed past Conifer goalkeeper John Mackey.

Two Sailors players had crashed in on the back side of the play, but it was Andrew Johnston who picked the ball out of the air and pounded it into the back of the net. All Mackey could do was fall to the ground in agony.

"I just threw it after the play had unfolded.

"I just threw it as far as I could and it worked out," Rinn said of the play.

The junior finished with one goal and two assists on the night. Johnston and Silas Cammer netted the other Steamboat goals in the seesaw battle.

"It was the type of game we expected," Bohlmann said. "

Bohlmann said the Sailors, 12-2-1 (10-4-1 with two forfeits imposed by CHSAA), worked hard to create opportunities.

The first goal, such as the last one, was the result of Rinn's flip-style thrown in. The first time Rinn sent the ball into the goalkeeper's box, the ball bounced behind Mackey, where Silas Cammer collected the loose ball and scored to give Steamboat a 1-0 advantage with 38 minutes, 28 seconds left in the first half.

Conifer, 13-2-1 answered less than three minutes later with a breakaway goal by Russell Anderson.

Anderson stole a bouncing ball, broke past the Sailors defense and pushed the ball to the opposite corner of the net past a diving Andrew Litzau. The goal tied the game at one goal apiece with 35:37 left to play.

"Both of their goals were great," Litzau said. "I never even saw the ball on the second one."

Steamboat controlled the ball for the rest of the first half and had three more solid scoring opportunities, but the team could not get the ball past Mackey and a scrappy Conifer defense.

Steamboat regained the lead with 33:02 left to play in the second half. Rinn scored after taking a pass from Jason Sirois.

"It was a fast-paced game," Rinn said. "I think we were a little upset when they scored so quickly. We wanted to get the lead back."

Steamboat, however, would only hold that lead for a few minutes . The Lobos' Jeff Moore scored at 23:38 to tie the game and set up the overtime heroics.

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