Devils cruise in playoff opener
Eagle Valley goalie Mary Cochrane could have gone for a cup of coffee Saturday afternoon at the Eagle County Fairgrounds and nobody would have noticed.
The reason for Cochrane’s lack of stimulation was the overwhelming offensive and defensive pressure brought forth by her teammates in the Devils’ 3A state-seeding playoff game against the James Irwin Charter School.
Eagle Valley did score four goals, could have scored about six more, and allowed only one goal from the Jaguars in the waning moments of the match as it breezed into the state tournament with a resounding, 4-1 win.
“I think today was one of our better games altogether, all year,”said a grinning coach Daiva Katieb afterward. “Just the passing game was awesome. They looked like they knew what they were doing. They knew where everyone was. They looked like they liked each other and were having a ball.”
The Devils dominated from start to finish, keeping the ball in the Jags’ territory for nearly the entire 80 minutes, but were only up, 1-0, at halftime after misfiring on a number of scoring chances.
Jessica Jagger, Whitney Beasley, Bobbi Ray, Sarah Reed and Lakota Doig all pelted shots in Jags’ keeper Ashley Sears’ direction, but were either off the mark or shot right into Sears’ hands in the opening 40 minutes.
And then, there was Sam Phillips, the Devils’ senior scoring machine who ran circles around the Jags’ defense while unloading four first-half shots.
Only one of those shots made it past Sears, though. The score came off an assist from Beasley as Phillips split two defenders on the left side of the goal box and then hammered a rising shot past a charging Sears that found its way into the top-right corner of the net.
Phillips admitted that she was frustrated with all the scoring opportunities the Devils were unable to convert in the early going, but that she knew that would change as long as her she and teammates kept firing on net.
“I knew we were going to at least get a goal,” Phillips said. “We were down on their side the whole time. We were all really nervous. (The goal) just settled us down, and then we just played really well together. (Sears) is what kept their team alive. She’s an awesome goalie.”
Added Katieb, “We had that talk after the first half. They knew it was coming, but they were getting a little frustrated, and I told them to just keep going. It could have been a little uglier.”
The goals came more easily in the second half. Phillips notched her second goal of the game two minutes into the second half on a penalty kick, after James Irwin’s Erika Birdsong was called for a hand ball in the Jags’ goal box.
Reed then came right back four minutes later with a score, on an assist from Phillips, slipping a low liner past a diving Sears.
Then, for good measure, Jagger netted a goal for the defense – after defender Julie Taylor and midfielder Kathy Reyes had come close with shots off the crossbar – to put the Jags in the books for good.
Jagger’s lofting shot from the top-left corner of the box that went over the heads of the James Irwin’s defensive wall and then over the hands of a leaping Sears was the prettiest shot of the day, a ball that seemed to have eyes.
“We did good keeping it on this side of the field,” Jagger said about the defensive gem she and her teammates turned in. “We were laughing, being like ‘Mary you OK back there (in goal)?’ We were attacking most of the game.”
The Jags’ lone goal of the match came in the second-to-last minute of action when Krystle Dorris headed an assist from Kim Bochelen past Cochrane.
Katieb said that she would have preferred to preserve the shutout, after dominating for 79 minutes, but that the win was really all that mattered.
“The goal that they did get was beautiful,” Katieb said. “It was a fantastic goal. It’s too bad. I was looking for the shutout, but, you know, you can’t always have what you want.”
“We were having a blast out there,” Phillips said. “This was so important to me. I spent all last night thinking about the game. This morning I was like, ‘Oh God, oh God, oh God, I hope we play well. It was pretty nerve wracking. We had a lot of spectators, and I didn’t want to let them down.”
The Devils will now wait and see where they end up today when CHSAA officials meet to make up the 3A state-soccer bracket.
With the win, Eagle Valley improved to 9-4-1.
Contact Nate Peterson at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at email@example.com