Vail Mountain tops Vail Christian, 4-0, in friendly
Saints get back to playing
EAST VAIL — On a sunny spring day, Vail Christian and the Vail Mountain School played an ordinary soccer game at Bandoni Alumni Field on Wednesday, which wasn’t really breaking news.
It was, however, a step toward whatever’s normal after Saints co-coach Lauren Mutter died nearly two weeks ago. There’s been an outpouring of tears and mourning and Wednesday was a bit of a respite from it all.
As expected, Vail Mountain took care of business against Vail Christian, 4-0. There was a lot of Gish-ing — we’ll get to that — but it was nice for all involved just to focus on kicking a soccer ball for 80 minutes with some laughter and high-fives, to boot.
“I think we took a step forward with an amazing group of resilient hard-working girls after losing an incredibly critical member of our family,” Saints coach Barbara Wilson said.
While Mutter’s passing is felt more keenly at Vail Christian, it was apropos that the Saints’ first game of the season came at the Vail Mountain School. Before Vail Christian had a soccer team, Mutter, Class of 2005, played for the Vail Mountain School and coach Bob Bandoni.
“What’s interesting for me with two teams, two sets of coaches, this full group of people, the one connection is Lauren,” Bandoni said. “She played for Vail Mountain School. She coached for Vail Christian. What I tell players is that she has something to teach all of us and that is when you step on a soccer field, you just should be grateful. You hear the word joy connected to Lauren and my feeling is that and she just appreciated every chance she had to be on a soccer pitch.”
The verb to Gish
Vail Mountain has held sway over this friendly rivalry, and that continued on Wednesday. With Snowpocalypse 2019 still in evidence with walls of ice surrounding the pitch, it’s clear that both teams are in the embryonic stages of developing their game.
Vail Christian had a solid first half, given that the Saints hadn’t been outside on a field too much this season. The Saints could be pleased that they held the Gore Rangers scoreless before VMS erupted in the second half.
“Our first game helped us check off some boxes,” Wilson said. “We’re still working, arranging the pieces on the chessboard. We’re figuring out where some of our players will be going. We’re bringing in basketball players, skiers and some who are also playing lacrosse. We showed a lot of enthusiasm and skill and we always enjoy playing against a quality and classy team like Vail Mountain.”
And the Gore Rangers finally went off in the second half it was Gish feeding Gish. Anyone who’s watched VMS soccer the last few years knows Sammy Gish, now a senior and center back. But the Gishes are multiplying as Gaby and Emily Gish, Sammy’s twin younger sisters, are on the team.
And VMS went Gishing, as Sammy fed Gaby. Sammy scored the team’s second and goal No. 4 was Gaby’s second tally of the day.
“It’s a lot of fun. We work really well together,” Sammy said. “It’s pretty entertaining. I get to give them a hard time. It’s just really fun because we haven’t been on the same team before.”
Emma Kate Burns scored VMS’ third, on an assist from Maddy Cooper. Surprisingly, these two players do not share the same gene pool as the Gish family.
“What was positive was their response to coaching at halftime,” Bandoni said. “For them to be able to learn in the context of the game is really positive. It resulted in better movement through the midfield and more structure and scoring opportunities.”
This was not a league game, but a friendly. VMS (3-0) remains in the 3A Slope and will compete at the same level in the annual quest to wear orange. As is usual for Bandoni’s team, they will start to incorporate more players from winter sports as the soccer season progresses. There is no word yet 0n whether Bandoni will require the squad to watch the Boston Red Sox raising their latest World Series banner.
In theory, the Gore Rangers host Delta on Saturday to open the 3A Slope. Meanwhile, the Saints (0-1) are rightly taking the opening that CHSAA has offered to play as a member of the new 2A Slope. This allows Vail Christian to play mostly 2A squads like Rocky Mountain Lutheran today at Freedom Park in Edwards at 3 p.m., and avoid the traditional fixtures against 3A powers Aspen, Basalt and Coal Ridge.