Devils go down swinging in first 4A playoff game
GYPSUM — The future is bright for Eagle Valley’s girls soccer program. That’s the good news.
The not-so-good news is that the future is now, although through most of Wednesday’s playoff game it looked like the wave the Devils were riding would roll a little longer.
The Devils led for much of their first playoff game in memory, before going down swinging in a 4-3 playoff loss to Green Mountain on Wednesday at Hot Stuff Stadium in Gypsum.
The Devils made the playoffs for the first time since the school moved up to 4A during the 2004-05 school year. They finished 12-3 in the regular season and second in the Western Slope League after being 7-8 last year and 3-11 the year before.
And they’re young.
Eagle Valley has only two seniors, Mariel Gutierrez and Madison Baxter. Devon Green and Nicole Mejia are the only juniors. All of the rest are freshmen and sophomores.
“They’re going to be crazy good,” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez led this spiral arm of the universe in scoring with 37 goals this season, which is plenty for a career. She’ll play her college ball at the University of Northern Colorado.
“We’re excited for the future,” coach Stephen Baxter said.
Eagle Valley hasn’t been this good at girls soccer since … since before any of these players were born.
“We knew we’d be a good team. We just didn’t know how good,” Gutierrez said after the game.
It took a few weeks for the youngsters’ lights to go on.
“After the first few games, we started playing well together as a team. After that, we knew we were going to be good, and we were,” Gutierrez said. “I’m proud of the way we ended this season.”
Rams just a hair better
The Rams are a solid Jeffco team, from the best conference in 4A.
“Green Mountain is a great club. We wish them good luck against (their next playoff opponent) Cheyenne Mountain,” Baxter said.
They’re also an experienced team, with 11 seniors on the traveling squad that made the trip to Gypsum. They’ve seen this before.
With less than five minutes gone in the game, Green Mountain’s Morgan Effrein found a corner kick that dropped into the top of the box. She headed it into the top left corner for a 1-0 Rams lead.
Gutierrez evened things at 1-1 with a stealth goal at 12 minutes into the first half. She collected the ball at the top of the box, took a couple steps and hid behind a Rams defender. She let a low shot fly and Green Mountain’s goalie didn’t see it until it was too late. Gutierrez’s shot scooted between her legs and into the net.
Eagle Valley took a 2-1 lead when Rose Sandell hit a corner kick to Gutierrez, who punched it in with a header with 19:11 left in the first half.
Three minutes later, Green Mountain’s Cassie Allen collected the ball at the top of the box, but she rolled her ankle and went down. A Rams midfielder following the play broke through the confusion and blasted it low into the bottom right corner to tie it 2-2.
Just two minutes into the second half, the Rams dodged a barrage of shots when the Devils created a pair of scrambles in front of the Green Mountain net.
At 35:38 in the second half, an Eagle Valley miscommunication at the top of the box cost the Devils a goal when an opportunistic Allen flicked a shot that trickled into the Eagle Valley net for a 3-2 Green Mountain lead.
Eagle Valley’s Kaitlyn Borah evened it at 3-3 on a breakaway with 22:50 left in regulation. Gutierrez threaded a seeing-eye through ball from midfield through the center. Borah picked it up between two Green Mountain defenders, dribbled twice, looked left to get Ram goalkeeper Brittany Hensley leaning that way, and popped it into the bottom right corner.
Devils goalkeeper Brennecke Gale kept it even moments later with a diving save during a scramble in front of the Eagle Valley net.
Green Mountain’s Allen scored the winner with 10:41 left when she slipped past two Eagle Valley defenders and found her self 1-on-1 with goalkeeper Gale. Allen slipped it into the bottom right corner, off a diving Gale’s outstretched fingertips, for a 4-3 Green Mountain lead.
Eagle Valley pounded away until the final whistle, but Hensley, Green Mountain’s goalkeeper, rescued her teammates with four diving saves in the last two and a half minutes.
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.
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