EAST VAIL — A clank is usually not a good thing in soccer.
But that sound off the crossbar seemed to get the Vail Mountain School going on Tuesday at historic Bandoni Alumni Field against Lake County. The Gore Rangers rallied from a 2-0 deficit against the visiting Panthers for a 3-2 nonconference victory.
“I wish I hit the ball a little lower, placed it a little more,” VMS junior midfielder Ryan Schmidt said. “I’ll work on that in practice and get it next time.”
The clank, though, started the ball rolling for VMS (2-2).
“It definitely built momentum, builds confidence in our players,” Schmidt said. “Now, they see the scoring opportunity. Now, they want to score.”
And score they did, and that leads to a happy bunch going into Thursday’s 3A Slope opener at Grand Valley.
“I think it’s huge for them, to be able to pull back, that you can overcome adversity against a team that came down here and played really hard,” VMS coach Pete Petrovski said. “(Lake County is) well-coached. They tried as hard as any team we’ve played. To be able to come back and score three goals is a big accomplishment.”
After the crossbar, two VMS shots on the Panthers’ net went wide right, including one from Garrett Cerny. File that miss away for later.
Clayton Kirwood finally got the Gore Rangers on the board in the 30th minute, halving the Lake County lead to 2-1.
“The last 10 minutes of the half, we started picking it up,” Cerny said. “Coach helped us with a nice speech (at halftime) about what we needed to do and that we could beat these guys. It helped us to gain some momentum.”
And Cerny took things over nicely in the second half. He scored both in the 46th and 48th minutes. Dylan Cunningham notched his second assist of the afternoon on Cerny’s first. Cerny broke into the Panthers’ end just two minutes later. Lake County goalie Eriberto Rodriguez stopped the first shot, but was out of position for Cerny’s second.
“It feels great to look up and see a wide-open goal and be many yards away from the next defender,” Cerny said. “It was a fun goal. Sometimes your eyes get too wide. In the first half, I had a few situations where I couldn’t handle it.”
VMS did a good job of playing to feet on Tuesday. It makes a lot of sense, considering the Gore Rangers play on turf and aren’t the tallest bunch when it comes to getting 50-50 balls out of the air. On the other side of the ledger, VMS will need to play a more diagonal game to the flanks and the outside of the pitch as the season progresses.
“We found ourselves pinching in too much at times,” Petrovski said. “When we are wide, I feel we are much more effective especially when we beat the first guy and try to move the ball around.”
VMS heads to Parachute on Thursday for the league opener against Grand Valley. The Gore Rangers pasted the Cardinals, 7-0, in the season opener (a nonconference game) in East Vail nearly two weeks ago. The message in practice will be to avoid taking Grand Valley lightly.
“I think we have to put ourselves in their shoes,” Petrovski said. “If someone came in and beat us, 7-0, we’d be pretty upset about it and we’d want to have our best showing. We’re going to make that very clear tomorrow to our guys in training.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and firstname.lastname@example.org.