Devils celebrate seniors, notch 11th win
GYPSUM — This was a first.
Eagle Valley girls soccer had a group hug … at halftime.
The Devils were honoring their two seniors, Madison Baxter and Mariel Gutierrez, during the traditional ceremony at Hot Stuff Stadium in Gypsum, and after the photos and flowers, everyone hugged.
It wasn’t premature celebration. The Devils led Delta, 3-1, and went on to win 4-1.
Those two just mean a bunch, so hug away.
‘THIS IS EPIC’
“It’s something I’ve been dreading all my life, actually,” joked Devils head coach Stephen Baxter, speaking more as a dad than a coach. “To be able to coach my daughter all her life and then Mariel the last two years, this is a culmination. This is epic.”
The Devils have gone from being a league doormat to second place in the Slope in two years, boasting a shiny 11-3 record. And Eagle Valley will be going to the playoffs for the first time as a 4A school.
“Going from a team that was not so hot to a team that’s improved is really amazing,” Devon Green said. “It’s so exciting. We all love the seniors.”
Before everyone sat down after the national anthem, Gutierrez had found the back of the net. That’s becoming the usual. The senior had two more for the hat trick and 29 scores this season, the best in all of Class 4A, according to maxpreps.com. (Somebody named Logan Nash is No. 2 in that category, giving the leaderboard a nice local flavor.)
‘WORKING HARD EVERY DAY’
To Gutierrez’s credit, she has not piled up those numbers by feasting on bad teams. She’s been an equal opportunity employer, scoring on everyone this season.
Up 3-1 in the second half, she helped produce the talker. Gutierrez came down the left side and passed it across to a streaking Sofia Aguilar, who one-timed it into the net for a gorgeous goal.
“That’s working hard every day,” coach Baxter said. “We’ve been striving since last year. Last year was our building year. This year, we’re just fine-tuning. Sometimes it comes together. Sometimes it doesn’t.”
It’s been coming together more often than not this year. The bigger question now is not about making the playoffs, but whether or not the Devils can crack the top 16 of the bracket and secure a home game in the first round.
A win at Aspen next week in Eagle Valley’s regular-season finale certainly wouldn’t hurt the cause.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.
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