Senior spotlight: Vail Christian soccer
'Smiley-est' is now a word
Tuesday was meant to be the Colorado Rocky Mountain School, which if things went to plan, was going to be a big game.
Obviously, not much has gone according to plan this spring.
Vail Christian soccer was on deck on March 12, which was really “only” six weeks ago, to open its season at the Vail Mountain School when CHSAA suspended sports and the coronavirus, social distancing, and sheltering in place became part of the lexicon.
Since the Saints were supposed to be among the first to play, welcome to the first of many Senior Days for Eagle County’s spring sports teams.
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Like all the teams who never got to start, of course, Vail Christian soccer thought this was going to be the year, and, in this case, the optimism may have been justified.
Saints soccer has, at times, tested the optimism of all involved. The program dropped down to junior varsity in 2018 to regroup, yet returned to the varsity ranks last spring, finishing 6-5, only three spots out in the rating-percentage index of a coveted 2A playoff spot.
Follow the trend, people.
With the aforementioned CRMS Oysters taking both matches from the Saints in 2019 and advancing to the state quarterfinals, well, that was the next step.
“We were looking at the roster and it was looking pretty good,” Saints coach Barbara Wilson said. “Some years, we were solid at some positions and improvising at some spots. We felt we had a solid starting 11 and some depth on the bench. As for the girls, we had talked with all of the seniors. CRMS was our goal, and we were hoping with that that we could make the playoffs.”
Thus, it was with some irony that during our conversation with Wilson on Tuesday that her phone reminded her — sort-of helpfully — that the Saints were scheduled to kick off against CRMS in 20 minutes. Grrrr.
Vail Christian’s Class of 2020 — Rebecca Daly, Brooke Layman, Cate Maslan, Riley Leyton, Maddie Ellsworth and Talia Tyler — was going to play a big role in achieving that goal.
While nothing can do full justice to what these six seniors mean to the program and to the school, Wilson had some thoughts.
• Daly: Most likely to nutmeg an opponent.
• Layman: Biggest transition from volleyball to soccer.
• Maslan: Good things come in small packages.
• Leyton: Left-footed phenom.
• Ellsworth: Fourth of the dynasty and the “smiley-est” soccer player. (If Coach says that’s a word, it’s a word.)
• Tyler: Great in the air and not afraid.
Wilson also compared Tyler to Dennis Rodman because “you know what we’ve been watching,” referring to ESPN’s “The Last Dance” documentary. The coach was speaking more of Tyler’s independent spirit than some of Rodman’s, shall we say, eccentricities.
While the official season is done, it sounds like the Saints wouldn’t mind getting together for a weekly pickup game and some unofficial friendlies as county and state regulations allow.
Again, keeping in mind the broad health picture, Vail Christian is also hoping to play the Lauren Mutter Memorial Game with Battle Mountain in honor of the eponymous Vail Christian graduate as the summer progresses.
The Saints may not be done yet.
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When a crowd of around 500 people showed up in Vail on Tuesday night to join a protest march in support of Black Lives Matter, the gathering plainly violated Eagle County’s current COVID-19 recommendations.