No. 8 Vail Mountain School upset by No. 25 Jefferson Academy in Colorado Class 3A playoffs
VAIL — Despite dominating time of possession in the first half, No. 8 seeded Vail Mountain School trailed No. 25 Jefferson Academy 3-0 at halftime en route to a Class 3A first-round playoff loss on Thursday, Oct. 25, by a final of 3-1.
A converted penalty kick awarded to the Jaguars eight minutes into the game made the score 1-0, and a nifty goal by Jefferson Academy’s Ian Cohen with 10 minutes left in the first half made it 2-0, and then a crazy goal off the foot of Jefferson’s Payton Tennal hit the crossbar and bounced downward, back across the goal line just before halftime.
“It was a horrible day, but it was a great season,” Gore Rangers coach Alex Darbut said. “Things went that team’s way today. It was just unlucky today.”
In addition to a comeback win against Aspen, overtime victories and in-town bragging rights against Eagle Valley, the Gore Rangers will remember this season for a memorable goal in the playoff game Thursday night.
After the Gore Rangers pulled goalie Theo Marston out from the net, the senior fan-favorite cleaned up a shot by fellow senior Nathan Rouaud off the hands of the Jaguars goalie for Vail Mountain’s only goal of the game.
“The whole season I’ve always wanted to go up for a corner or something,” Marston said.
Just like all season, the Gore Rangers continued to fight through adversity.
“No matter what game we played, we really kept our hearts in it,” senior Shane Cole said. “We won in PKs, we won in double overtime and no one gave up.”
LEADING UP TO THE GAME
Vail Mountain School finished the regular season 11-4 overall and 4-3 in the 3A Western Slope.
Jefferson Academy finished 6-8-1 overall and 6-3-1 in the 3A Metro league, starting 0-5 on the season with a stacked schedule against top teams.
“We knew that this was a tough bracket, and Vail Mountain is a fantastic team,” Jefferson Academy coach Matt Cassell said. “We knew that coming into it. We also had a confidence that we could rise to the level.”
Both teams hosted No. 3 seeded Colorado Academy during the regular season, both losing 2-1 in overtime.
Gore Rangers captain Rouaud didn’t practice leading up to the game, his coach said, due to illness.
“He’s a great player, one of the better I’ve seen this season,” Cassell said. “He’s dynamic, and any team in the state would love to have that kid running in the middle of the field.”
It was an emotional end for four Gore Rangers seniors: Rouaud, Cole, Marston and Cameron Bill.
“Theo is just the quiet leader, organizes the defense, holds people responsible and is just a great person,” Darbut said. “Shane Cole is a huge part of the culture and an ambassador for the school. Cam Bill, also a great guy, and then Nathan just bleeds soccer. He’s hard working, passionate, talented and the guy who takes us to the next level.”
An excited crowd stuck through to the end on the cold Thursday afternoon.
“It’s beyond awesome,” Rouaud said of the fans. “We haven’t had a crowd like that all season, and to have so many people come out really gave us something extra to fight for.”
For Jefferson Academy, the winner of No. 9 Liberty Common and No. 24 Peak to Peak await.
Assistant editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and email@example.com. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.