After giving up two first-half goals against Glenwood Springs on Saturday, Steamboat Springs High School boys soccer coach Rob Bohlmann wanted his team to tighten up on the defensive end.

“We definitely lost on the attack a little bit, but we played strong on defense, which is what we wanted to do,” SSHS junior Will McConnell said of the second half. “We played an awesome first half, scored four goals, and then second half, we were focusing on defense and just shut them down, which we did an awesome job at.”

Following a barnburner of a first half, the final 40 minutes turned into a defensive battle, with the Sailors holding on for a 4-2 win at Gardner Field. The game lacked much of the late-game dramatics of the first match up, a season-opening 5-4 overtime win for SSHS on Aug. 29.

While the defenses were on lockdown in the second half of Saturday’s game, both offenses were on point before halftime, and it was only a matter of minutes before both teams had found the back of the net.

“The attacking side of our soccer in the first half was some of the best we’ve seen all season,” Bohlmann said. “You just saw a lot of people creating and doing a lot of things. Overall, it was a very solid performance.”

SSHS junior Ross VanHara scored the game’s first goal, a beautiful floater on an assist from McConnell less than a minute into the game. However, Glenwood Springs was able to answer with its own goal, Cameron Horning tying the game at a goal each less than four minutes into the contest.

“I slid it out to him, expecting him to slide it back across, but I guess he saw the shot and hit it in the top corner. It was impressive,” McConnell said of the first goal. “Their goal came off just a bad clear, I think, and their front guy got the ball and took it down with a good finish.”

In the 17th minute, Steamboat junior Cruz Archuleta put the Sailors back on top, and barely two minutes later, McConnell scored on a deflected corner kick to make it 3-1 Sailors. Before Glenwood could regroup, SSHS senior Jack Salyer sent a rocket from 30 yards out past the Demon goalkeeper, pushing the Sailor lead to 4-1 with less than 12 minutes remaining in the half.

The final goal of the half — and the game — came on an impressive solo effort by Horning, who scored in the 32nd minute and cut the SSHS lead back to two goals.

“We addressed at halftime that we really needed to lock things down defensively, and that was our No. 1 focus,” Bohlmann said. “Maybe that kind of brought us too much into a defensive shell, but in the end, you got to protect that lead.”

Protect the lead they did, and the Sailors held on for their eighth straight win, moving them to 10-1 overall on the season. With only one league loss, SSHS remains tied for first with Battle Mountain. Glenwood Springs fell to 7-5.

“It’s a great team. We work for each other, and when you do that, it just creates things,” Bohlmann said. “These guys are earning it every day. The approach that we’ve had on a daily basis has been really consistent. I think that’s part of this team’s DNA, is to maximize on a daily basis.”

Steamboat will next play at Eagle Valley on Tuesday, a team it beat 2-1 in overtime Sept. 24. Eagle Valley, with two losses, sits just behind SSHS and Battle Mountain in league standings.

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To reach Austin Colbert, call 970-871-4204, email acolbert@SteamboatToday.comor follow him on Twitter @Austin_Colbert