Denver Christian too much |

Denver Christian too much

Bret Hartman/Vail DailyVail Mountain's Katie Wear, middle, and Z Warren, left, congratulate each other on a great season even though the Gore Rangers lost their first playoff game Friday in Vail against Denver Christian, 4-0.

VAIL – The word broke at lunch Thursday at the Vail Mountain School.The Gore Rangers girls soccer team, having qualified for the postseason for the first time in school history, would not be wearing the traditional playoff orange against Denver Christian in their regional playoff game Friday at The Bob.”They told us at lunch that they weren’t going to let us that they weren’t going to let us wear orange because they said the guys’ jerseys were too big,” VMS senior Courtney Robinson said. Fellow senior Z Warren started to write an e-mail to VMS coach Bob Bandoni to protest. Robinson sat down and put on her headphones, obviously also upset.”(Bandoni) came over to me,” Robinson said. “I looked at him and he said, ‘Just trust us.’ I was hoping that I was guessing right. It was awesome.”

The orange eventually did come out at the end of Thursday’s practice. Though the jerseys and throngs of orange-clad VMS fans could not stop the visiting Crusaders who walked away with a 4-0 win, it was a banner day for VMS’ program.”(Battle Mountain coach) Dave Cope came up and he was visiting with me,” Bandoni said. “One of the things he said was when he drove up was that he saw orange all over the place. … I told the girls that people have seen orange here in the fall for years and years. Now they see orange in the spring. The watermark has been set. We’ll use this as a place to start next season.”Orange, orange everywhere Breaking the pregame huddle, one of Denver Christian’s players said of VMS, “They look like the Dutch.”

Which is exactly the point and, in retrospect, why there was no doubt that VMS would wear its orange. Bandoni and staff had made the decision well in advance. One of the smallest schools in 3A, VMS compares itself to The Netherlands, one of the smallest European nations competing in soccer. And, even if the players, for some reason weren’t wearing orange, there was no stopping the fans. VMS teacher Jeanne Macsata broke out her old Broncos No. 77 orange jersey for Karl Mecklenberg. It actually wasn’t for the Denver linebacker. Macsata taped a piece of cardboard over Mecklenberg’s name which read, “Banvergrall,” short for the VMS coaching staff of Bandoni, Dan Verbeten, Ryan Gray and Karen Sprall.”It was my attempt at being Dutch,” Macsata joked.The boys soccer team was in the spirit. Patrick Scanalan had his orange No. 5. Sylvan Ellefson dyed his hair orange to go with his orange short. Max Avery was donning Texas Longhorns’ orange. Parents and students were wearing everything from Colorado Department of Transportation gear to pumpkin jackets, while the lower school students had orange face paint and similarly colored flags.

Even the headmaster, Peter Abuisi, had orange stripes on his tie.Had there been autumnal leaves on the trees, this scene was straight out of a boys soccer game played in late October. “It’s awesome. I’m going to start crying again,” Warren said. “It was our last game. I’ve been here for a long time. We started the team three years ago and we’ve been fighting. It’s awesome to play our last game here in our colors, especially with the little kids.”A defensive approach

VMS knew coming in that if it played its normal system, emphasizing quick play to the outside that it would be run off the pitch by the defending state champs. Instead against Denver Christian, VMS went Italian – a defensive-oriented system, relying on the counterattack for offense.Unfortunately, the counterattack never came and, while VMS played well defensively, it was only a matter of time for the Crusaders.”Vail’s girls played hard. They played with a lot of intensity,” Denver Christian coach Brad Hofman said. “It was really good to see. They had a smart game plan. It’s tough because when you play defensively as Vail did today, once that first goal goes in, you have to think about changing a little bit. They played well.”That first goal came off a a corner kick that was at first stymied by VMS. But the Crusaders reset with Kelsey Wiggins hitting a cross to Chrissy West who was right there for the header.In the 32nd, Shawna Hendrix ripped the right panel for a 2-0 lead. Late in the first half, it was Wiggins to West again. Michelle Koele had the Crusaders’ final score in the second half.

“We knew the Achilles’ heel was going to be the back post and they beat us on the back post and they were quality goals,” Bandoni said.Just for kicksVMS finished the season at 6-7. … In other regional playoff action, Classical Academy 1, Aspen 0; Manitou Springs 8, Lutheran of the Rockies 0; Machebeuf 11, Jefferson Academy 1; Colorado Academy 7, Maranatha Christian 0 and Salida 7, Frontier Academy 3. Colorado Springs Christian at Telluride and Weld Central at Ridgway are on tap for today. The 3A Slope champ, Basalt, has a bye. … Friday’s game marked the finale for VMS seniors Wright, Warren, Katie Wear, Lauren Mutter and Maddie Sullivan. “Our seniors played with a great deal of pride,” Bandoni said. “I think they know they’re the ones who got us here starting three years ago.” … Wright saw a significant amount of playing time, despite the fact that she’s been injured for most of the season. “It’s not only what she does as an individual on the field, but it’s the spirit that she brings to the competition,” Bandoni said. “We had her playing ahead of seven players. All those seven get to see her and she’s just a tremendous leader. She is always a positive force on the field.” … Hofman believes that his team will be seeded ninth or 10th for the state playoffs. It should be noted that Crusaders were No. 10 last year and won the 3A title.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or Colorado

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