Gas is expensive regardless of a driver's age, but for Allison Hall, the price tag on daily drives to Steamboat for soccer practice became too high. So she quit before her junior year.
But not playing that season proved more costly because she missed the game, she said. So the senior from Hayden High School rejoined the Sailors one last time, reuniting with teammates she started playing with 11 years ago.
Wednesday made it all worthwhile when Hall, on her 18th birthday, scored the game's first goal, as Steamboat went on to defeat Moffat County 7-1 at Woodbury Field in Craig.
Steamboat's victory, coupled with Rifle's win over Glenwood Springs on Wednesday, clinched the league title for the Sailors with two games remaining in Western Slope play.
Steamboat improved to 10-1 overall and 10-0 in league play. Moffat County fell to 3-8 and 2-6.
The Bulldogs certainly didn't make it easy for the Sailors to stay perfect, however, at least not for the first 40 minutes of play.
Down 2-0, following goals from Steamboat's Hall and Tracy Lucas, Moffat County got back in the game off Stephanie Braselton's shot past a diving Kirsten Ryan with 13 minutes left in the half.
It was the first goal the Bulldogs have scored on the Sailors in at least three years, senior captain Jeni Bamford said.
It was just the second shot to get past Ryan in league play this season.
"One of the midfielders set it up," Braselton said. "The goalie and defender stopped, and I saw the ball crossing in front of the net. I was surprised when I realized I had an open shot." The score clearly lifted the spirits of Moffat County, which Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann addressed at halftime.
"We felt we were in solid control," he said. "But letting them get that goal let them in the game emotionally."
He said, however, that his players realized that if they played consistent soccer for the remaining 40 minutes, they would stay undefeated in league play.
Moving Kelly Labor from defense to more of an offensive position helped as well, as the freshman scored four second-half goals to give Steamboat the lopsided win.
Moffat County's defenders and midfielders were visibly, and admittedly, tired and frustrated in trying to thwart the Sailors' organized attack.
Bulldogs coach Carla Bamford said the all-out effort her team gave in the first half played a role in the second-half fatigue.
"They went out and played so intense," Bamford said. "They were scared, and I told them to take a deep breath. They play with a lot of heart. They just got tired. They can still be proud. Steamboat is an
The Bulldogs aren't the first team the Sailors have worn down. Steamboat's willingness to run rampant without the ball forces teams to adjust, and more importantly, to chase its players around.
"One of the tactics we look to do, if we possess the ball, is to play East and West as much as North and South, and have the opposing team do a lot of running," Bohlmann said.
The next home gamefor the Sialors isn't until April 26 against Eaglecrest, so they are hopeful local fields will be dry enough to play on. The team is a little tired of driving to Craig for "home" games.
Well, maybe everyone except Hall. Craig is actually closer to Hayden, so the drive isn't as far -- or expensive.
"It doesn't matter to me," she said. " It's my senior year. We won the league, and we still have two games left. It's a win-win situation."