In a display of contrasts, the Steamboat Springs Sailors brought a varsity soccer squad boasting 14 seniors into Craig to face a Bulldogs team with 16 freshmen.
The Bulldogs played the Sailors tough for the entire game, but experience and aggression won out in the end, bringing the Sailors a 5-0 win and boosting their record to 3-1-1 overall and 1-0 in league play.
The Bulldogs are still seeking their first win of the season, but they are improving every game, and there is a lot of confidence on the young squad.
"We're playing more aggressive than we usually do," said Eric Havrilla. "We're definitely going to do better this year."
In an effort to gain an offensive push, Bulldogs' coach, Eric Johnson started the second half off with the same formation he used in the first half, and then called for a formation switch while the ball was in play. He did that twice to keep the Sailors off balance and create some offensive chances.
"The formation switch went smoothly," Johnson said, "But we didn't create the offensive boost I was hoping for. We kept the ball on their side of the field better, but we just didn't generate the shots I was hoping for."
The Sailors generated plenty of shots, especially in the first half. Mike Rinn, a junior forward for the team racked up his second three-goal game on the season. Kile Nelson and John Hottenroth each notched a goal to round out the scoring for Steamboat Springs.
"I think this year is definitely going to be a top year for us," Rinn said. "We've been playing together since we were four or five, and we can play against anybody in the state we play well together."
Playing together, and with aggression, is what Johnson is looking for from the Bulldogs. The team seems to be responding as league play begins.
"It looked more aggressive today, and we're much closer to Steamboat than we have been in the past," Johnson said.
Still, he feels a few mental lapses are what hurts the Bulldogs.
"It's the little errors," he said. "Hopefully we get that corrected by Saturday.
The Bulldogs go on the road Saturday to face Battle Mountain. A team Rob Bohlman, head coach for Steamboat Springs feels is an unknown this year. Johnson will continue to emphasize aggressive play and ball possession going into that game.
His players know how important those things are to their success.
"I think we're playing a lot more aggressive," said Isidro Quezada. "We just need to tie up the loose ends, and we'll be fine. We held our own against what I think is the best team in our league. If we keep working like that, we'll beat a couple of teams and maybe steal a spot for state."