Break out the orange: Vail Mountain clinches
EAST VAIL, Colorado – After Tuesday’s game against Rangely, the Vail Mountain School soccer team gathered in a circle and head coach Bob Bandoni announced, “Welcome to the postseason.”
That proclamation elicited a loud whoop because making the state playoffs is a big deal for any team. It’s great moment at VMS because that means the Gore Rangers trade in their traditional blue-and-white uniforms for Dutch orange ones.
“We’re both really psyched because we made it last year,” said Taylor Biegler, who was standing next to Ellie Knust after Tuesday’s 6-1 win against Rangely, which clinched the playoff berth. “But I didn’t get a chance to play last season. So this is cool.”
Most wanted to stand next to Knust Tuesday. All she did was ring up a hat trick against the Panthers.
“It was really exciting,” Knust said. “I started the season playing defense and just recently moved to offense, so that was really an accomplishment.”
And that has been the season in a nutshell for the Gore Rangers (7-4-1 in the 3A Slope). A former fullback turned striker picking up three goals isn’t that surprising given the injury bug which has hit VMS. With Sally Ryerson (elbow) and Kelsey Samuels (knee) definitely done for the year and Katie Scruggs (ankle) hoping to recover, the Gore Rangers have had to change on the run in 2010.
“We’re really excited,” said Bandoni, who normally doesn’t get very excited. “It’s two years in a row. The kids identify with it. They know what it means to the program, especially with some of the challenges that we faced this year.”
Since VMS is one of the smallest schools in the state to field a soccer team, Bandoni made an analogy with the Dutch National Team, a wee nation in international competition, prior to a 1998 boys playoff game against Bishop Machebeuf. The night before the game, he showed a highlight film of the Dutch winning the 1988 Euro Cup, and handed out orange jerseys.
The Gore Rangers, clad in orange, went out and thumped Machebeuf, 7-0, and the jerseys have had a lore since. (For the trivially-inclined, Will McConathy and Slade Cogswell had two each, along with Chris Robinson, Matt Slevin and Colin Lamb. And yes, that’s the same Cogswell who’s now coaching in the fall.)
This is the third time the girls will be wearing orange – VMS also qualified in 2006 and 2009. CHSAA will issue the state bracket Sunday on its Web site, and the Gore Rangers will be playing an opponent to be determined on Tuesday.
A key for VMS in the postseason will be finishing, of which the Gore Rangers had plenty Tuesday. Misha Harrison fed Bridget Moffet for a 1-0 lead midway through the first half. Six minutes later, Knust was starting her hat trick.
VMS rolled out three more goals before the break. Maggie Sherman, Knust and Lauren Zdechlik all found the onion bag. After Rangely’s Miranda Cisneros put her team on the board, Knust made it three for the day.
Next up for VMS is a pair with Coal Ridge. It’s a road game Thursday and then the teams reconvene at storied Bandoni Alumni Field Friday.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.