Grand Valley Cardinals best Vail Christian, 3-1 | VailDaily.com

Grand Valley Cardinals best Vail Christian, 3-1

EDWARDS – Technically, it was Senior Day for Vail Christian. The Saints were hosting Grand Valley on Thursday at Freedom Park in Edwards in the final game of the season for both teams.

But both Cardinals and Saints seniors celebrated.

Grand Valley’s four graduates-to-be – Chelsea Neely, Elizabeth Fowler, Eryn Paskett and Sandee Aldrich – gathered for a happy, but slightly weepy, hug with their coach Kelly Clark after the Cardinals won, 3-1.

Meanwhile, Vail Christian’s Micaela McGuckin, Alexis Ellsworth and Dakota Francis gave flowers to their parents and received hugs at halftime.

“These are my seniors, and I’ve been coaching them since they were U-10s,” Clark said.

For Vail Christian and coach Barbara Wilson, the Saints’ three seniors helped start varsity soccer at the school, and the feeling was similar to Clark’s.

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“I started with them as freshmen,” Wilson said. “It’s been fun to see them develop and take on leadership roles.”

After a scoreless first half, Ashlynn Speakmann put the Cardinals on the board with a shot that just slipped over the goal line. Lauren Paskett made it 2-0 with a booming shot.

The Saints’ Gracen McGuckin halved that lead with a score, giving Vail Christian some hope, but Speakmann scored her second, closing the door for Grand Valley’s fourth win of the year.

“It’s a very good way to end the season,” Clark said. “I’m proud of all my players on the field because they actually went out there and got what they wanted and they worked hard to get it.”

Vail Christian finished the season with one win and one tie – understandable, given that program is still developing and scrambling for field space for practice. Nonetheless, the team showed a lot of courage continuing to play through difficult circumstances.

“To play 12 hard games, to play through every game and, afterward, to figure out what we need to work on for the next game, I’m proud of them,” Wilson said. “I don’t feel like we made the same mistakes. We’d work on something, and we’d make that improvement. It’s a great group of girls.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.