EAST VAIL — Sure, a tie is like kissing your sister — and Vail Mountain School soccer coach Pete Petrovski dutifully uttered the cliche after VMS and Coal Ridge played to a 2-2 draw on a snowy Thursday afternoon at Bandoni Alumni Field in East Vail.
But both teams really got what they wanted. Barring a major misstep in their final two games (home for Moffat County on Tuesday and at Grand Valley on Thursday), the Titans pretty much wrapped up the 3A Western Slope title. Meanwhile, VMS is on the verge of returning to playoff orange later this month, closing in on a top-three finish in the league.
As for the snow, it came down heavily in the first half, coating the pitch in ice. That stopped both teams from their similar style of play — playing wide and to feet. Neither team could make a cut to advance the ball the way it wanted.
“It takes us out of our element,” Coal Ridge coach Michael Mikalakis said. “We’re more of an on-the-ground passing team where we build our possession up. When you can’t get a hold of the ball, it makes for a difficult day. But you have to be ready to play, no matter where you go. Wherever you play, you have to be ready, so I think we did OK.”
Vail Mountain (6-3-2) broke the seal with a Trevor Sheldon goal from Garrett Cerny. Edgar Enriquez tied it up in the 25th minute. (That was the first time that Titans had trailed in a league contest this season.) VMS’ Tommy Miller gave the Gore Rangers the lead going into intermission.
Coal Ridge’s Sergio Valentin had the only marker of the second half.”
“I’m really happy with how far we’ve come,” Petrovski said. “We didn’t come out intimidated like we did at their place, and they put a pretty good shellacking on us.”
The Titans defeated the Gore Rangers, 7-3, in New Castle earlier this season.
In the first overtime, Valentin had a breakaway, only to be stoned by VMS goalie William Sterret. VMS got its chance in the second 10 minutes when Clay Kirwood headed a corner kick over the bar.
Meanwhile, Coal Ridge (9-2-1) showed it could come back against a quality opponent
“It’s a big thing,” Mikalakis said. “I think it’s a learning experience. The kids really pushed themselves to see where they are as players. They are out there showing they can battle that storm and take it to the next level when needed. That’s huge.”
Coal Ridge heads to Grand Junction for a nonconference game on Saturday, while the Gore Rangers host Basalt. VMS needs four points (a win and a tie) in its final two league games to clinch a playoff spot.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and firstname.lastname@example.org.