GREELEY — Vail Mountain School toppled Colorado Springs Christian in Friday’s first-round soccer match, 4-2, and that pits the Gore Rangers against Frontier Academy today for round two.
If they beat Frontier Academy in today’s 3 p.m. match, they’re playing next weekend. They don’t know who, where or when. But they’d be playing, and that’s all that matters right now.
The Gore Rangers were solid for the most part, said coach Pete Petrovski, but there was that one moment early on.
“You take a three hour drive and get out of the van, move around a little bit and start playing,” Petrovski said.
Three minutes in, a Colorado Springs Christian winger streaked down the left side and caught the Gore Rangers a little flat footed with a quick goal.
That was all it took to get the Gore Rangers’ attention and their backs up a little bit.
Gore Rangers step it up
About one minute later Clay Kirwood knotted it at 1-1. Trevor Sheldon carried the ball down the left side and fed it inside to Garrett Cerny.
Kirwood was making a run from the weak side and Cerny hit him in stride with a seeing-eye pass. Kirwood rifled a shot to the far post for his first goal of the day.
“Those shots to the far post are hard to hit, and fortunately they’re also hard to save,” Petrovski said.
They missed a few opportunities as the first half ground on, Petrovski said, like the corner kick Vail Mountain School failed to clear in the 27th minute that put Colorado Springs Christian up 2-1.
That also got the Gore Rangers’ attention, Petrovski said, who decided they hadn’t driven all that way to Greeley to lose.
“That motivated it our guys,” Petrovski said.
Vail Mountain School built a possession along the right side and a long, lofting crossing pass found Sheldon wide open for a shot from the left side. He pounded a howitzer that hit the crossbar and bounced away, but Cerny was crashing toward the goal and buried the rebound in the top right corner.
That tied it at 2-2 at the half.
The Gore Rangers played solidly for the first seven or eight minutes of the second half, then went flat for several minutes, Petrovski said.
Zdechlik, Sterett shine
Luckily, goalkeeper William Sterett was there to prop them up.
“He made seven unbelievable saves. He kept us in the game and played tremendously,” Petrovski said.
Sterett even managed to bait Colorado Springs Christian into taking shots that were obviously not in their best interests.
“He’d give them the near post then take it away when they were shooting,” Petrovski said. “It was incredibly frustrating for them, and because he was in such great position it made those great saves look easier than they were.”
Petrovski said freshman Eric Zdechlik had one of those days that make coaches look insightful and wise.
Zdechlik had been in the game barely long enough to break a sweat when he won a ball down the right side and beat a Christian defender for a quick opening. He angled toward the goal and threaded a pass to Sheldon who buried it inside the right post for a 3-2 Vail Mountain School lead.
Going for a bigger lead
The thing about the Gore Rangers is that when they get a lead in a big game, they want a bigger lead in that big game, Petrovski said.
So they kept pushing forward and creating scoring opportunities. However, that meant the four players on their back line had to keep Colorado Springs Christian at bay.
“Brandon Rosenbach, J.P. Elmblad and Tommy and Danny Miller did a great job keeping them out,” Petrovski said.
They made it possible for Kirwood to celebrate his 17th birthday with one more goal.
Ryan Schmidt won the ball in the middle and played it outside to Watts Austen. Austen beat one guy and played it off to Kirwood who blasted it inside the left post for the 4-2 final.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.