GYPSUM — Eagle Valley soccer really should be getting time-and-a-half these days.
Four of the Devils’ eight games have gone into overtime, including Tuesday’s 3-3 draw with Steamboat Springs at Hot Stuff Stadium in Gypsum.
And judging by the postgame huddles, Eagle Valley seemed much happier with the tie Tuesday night. The Devils stood in a circle with their arms linked as their coach, Bratzo Horruitiner, praised his troops, while Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann had a solemn chat with his team.
“I’m super proud,” Horruitiner said. “We have a lot of guys who are injured. We have a lot of guys on the bench. Edwin (Ledezma) is still hurt. We had our third keeper playing today. We have no subs whatsoever. We had three guys from the JV stepping up today with the big boys.”
And what’s more, the Devils trailed three times and produced an equalizer each time. Making it all the stranger (and better in Eagle Valley’s eyes) was the speed with which the Devils replied. Down 2-1 in the first half and 3-2 in the second half, the Devils scored within a minute of Steamboat’s go-ahead goal.
Steamboat’s Jack Salyer took a penalty kick and converted for a 2-1 Sailors lead in the 32nd minute. Right off the restart, Eagle Valley countered with a beautiful pass from Aldo Palacios to Miles Petterson, who headed it into the back of the net.
Salyer to Peter White in the 52nd put the Sailors back up, 3-2, but Eagle Valley came right back down the field on the combination of Aaron Ledezma to Palacios.
“We get angry. We come back with a jab cross,” Horruitiner said. “It was a fun game. The guys didn’t give up. They never let the result stop us. I’m very happy with the attitude. We had a lot of order. We had a plan for this week for this team because they move the ball very well. We stayed organized.”
While the resilience is impressive from Eagle Valley’s view, this has been a problem for the Sailors (5-3-1 overall and 4-2-1 in the 4A Slope). This isn’t the first time they’ve seen this. Most notably, Battle Mountain’s Roberto Diaz scored a quickie after Steamboat had taken a 3-1 lead over the Huskies in Edwards earlier this month. That triggered a 5-4 comeback win for league-leading Battle Mountain in overtime.
“In reality, we get caught flat,” Bohlmann said. “We’re going in to press the ball right away, which is the right thing, but, just as a unit, we have to learn, if we’re putting pressure and they’re playing heads-up and looking to beat pressure over the top, then we’ve got to read that body language. As a unit, that’s a pattern and we will continue to look at the game film from that and several other games.”
Tuesday was a bit of payback for Eagle Valley (2-4-2, 2-3-2). In the first meeting between these two teams, the Sailors won on a golden goal by White. Tuesday is also a part of the trend of the Devils becoming more than competitive against the better teams in the league. Eagle Valley’s last three results have been a draw at Summit County, a 1-0 loss to Battle Mountain and a 3-3 tie with Steamboat. (Battle Mountain and its coach, David Cope, really should send a thank-you note to the Devils for their work.)
One of the reasons this stayed a draw was the play of Devils goalie Edgar Palacios. He got his first start and stood on his head, including stopping an early penalty kick.
“He’s this tall,” Horruitiner joked. “I’m very proud of that kid. He earned his opportunity in practice and in the JV games. That’s what we talked about during the week. Nothing is granted. He earned it. He stepped up to the challenge.”
Steamboat’s Hector Sanchez broke the seal early. Ledezma knocked home a penalty kick to tie it at 1-1.
Eagle Valley is at Delta on Saturday for a nonleague game, while Steamboat Springs is at Rifle on Thursday. Meanwhile, likely everyone in the Slope is hoping that Summit County can pin a loss on Battle Mountain tonight at 7 in Edwards. As Bohlmann said Tuesday, there’s a lot of soccer left.
“It’s going to come down to the final game,” Bohlmann said. “Every game’s important. Every moment, every possession, every restart is important. I think once we kind of get away from the emotion of tonight, and really look and articulate where things are, one game certainly changes everything from here on out, both in our games and the rest of our league. There’s a lot of soccer left.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and email@example.com.