Devils, Huskies and Gore Rangers ready for playoffs
The seedings are out for postseason soccer and there was merriment in Eagle County from East Vail to Gypsum.
But before we delve into bracketology — when did that become a word? — let’s have one quick, last look at the regular season in soccer through a statistic.
Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley and the Vail Mountain School went a combined 38-6-1.
That is simply outstanding, particularly when you consider two of those six losses were Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley beating each other.
All three squads notched a win over a top-10 team. Battle Mountain had Evergreen. Eagle Valley had Battle Mountain and VMS toppled Colorado Academy.
Eagle County produced two league champions and a second-place team that no one wants any part of during the playoffs this fall. Seriously, Eagle Valley’s 12-3 record is the “worst” of the three teams in the playoffs from our part of the world, and the three losses were by a total of three goals, two in overtime.
Well done on a spectacular regular season, everyone. Now let’s go, everyone.
The nitty gritty
• Battle Mountain drew No. 3 in 4A. The Huskies host Mitchell today at 3:30 p.m. Provided they advance, Battle Mountain is home through the quarters. This is the highest seed the Huskies have ever had. The 2012 edition, which went 15-0, was seeded No. 6. Upon further review, that might have been an error by CHSAA.
• Eagle Valley got No. 13. Call it lucky 13, primarily because the Devils wanted a first-round game at home. They got it. It’s Eagle Valley vs. Palmer Ridge tonight at 6.
And if you’re wondering, the only way the Huskies and Devils could meet is in the final, which we’d bet would be fine by both camps.
• Vail Mountain School got both of its wishes with No. 4. The Gore Rangers host a mini-regional Friday against Crested Butte at 1 p.m., and, hopefully, at the same time on Saturday. VMS, like Battle Mountain, if it advances, gets the quarterfinals at home.
• The 4A Slope region did very well. Durango is No. 12 and hosts Denver West. Steamboat Springs not only got a wild card but is home for D’Evelyn. Montrose drew No. 22, giving Western Colorado five teams in the dance in 4A. For 3A, Basalt (16), Coal Ridge (18) and Aspen (32) made the cut.
Battle Mountain vs. Mitchell, today, 3:30 p.m.
OK, the Huskies were hoping for No. 4 in the playoffs. No. 3’s a dream.
The longest winning streak in 4A soccer is The Classical Academy at 13. The second-longest? Well that would be the Huskies at 10. And in one of several moments of postseason serendipity, if the tourney went according to seed, Battle Mountain would meet TCA in the semis.
A great streak like that combined with a 3-0 win over then-No. 1 Evergreen, as well as a good nonconference slate — all three of the Huskies’ opponents outside the Slope ended up making the playoffs — apparently add up to No. 3.
“We’re really proud and humbled by that and now we have to live up to the seed,” Huskies coach David Cope said.
The visiting Marauders enter 6-8-1. Two of those losses were to TCA, 6-1 and 4-1. And just in case anyone in black and gold is getting complacent, Mitchell is no stranger to the underdog role.
Cope said: “If you look at history, which I did.”
Big shock, Cope.
OK, what he went on to say is that since 2012, Mitchell’s been the 18th, 20th and 26th seed and lost 1-0 each time. The Marauders are not just happy to be here. (Denver North, 2012, Evergreen, 2013, and Kennedy, 2014).
“They stay in the game and the seeds become less relevant as you go on,” Cope said.
The winner of today’s game faces the winner of Lewis-Palmer and Valor Christian.
Eagle Valley vs. Palmer Ridge, today, 6 p.m.
Last week, when Cope was talking up the strength of the 4A Slope, a common practice before the seeding committee meets, he said, “Steamboat beat Palmer Ridge, and Palmer Ridge went to the state finals a few years ago. I forget who they played.”
Yes, that would have been Battle Mountain in the 2012 state-title game, and that was the Bears’ last playoff game.
These are two teams who haven’t been to the dance in a while — this is the Devils’ first appearance since 2009.
Serendipity and the playoffs go hand in hand, people.
Think I’m joking?
Palmer Ridge lost at Steamboat Springs in overtime earlier in the season.
This is the long way of saying that Eagle Valley very much belongs in the postseason.
“The guys are super-excited,” Devils coach Bratzo Horruitiner said. “They are mentally prepared. We’ve had good training Monday and (Tuesday). The whole school is behind us.”
Horruitiner said that he expects Palmer Ridge to be a physical squad and that the Devils have to stick to their style of play — quick and skilled.
The winner of this one likely faces Evergreen, which is a heavy favorite over Thompson Valley. Serendipity, people.
Vail Mountain vs. Crested Butte, Friday, 1 p.m.
VMS is in the playoffs, so, yes, Friday is an Orange Day at the school. Come people, dress as Freud did when he was in high school way back in the day.
The season-ending draw with Basalt did not hurt the Gore Rangers. They got their Dylan Hardenbergh, er, No. 4.
What’s really funny is how down coach Pete Petrovski was when he called in VMS’ 3-2 loss to Jefferson Academy. Since then? Well, all VMS has done is go 13-0-1. And that loss doesn’t seem bad in retrospect. Jefferson Academy drew No. 12 and with an upset of No. 5 Pagosa Springs — isn’t the 5-12 matchup the upset in the NCAA basketball tournament the one? — could be VMS’ quarterfinal opponent.
I cannot make this up, people. Serendipity.
First things first, VMS takes on Crested Butte on Friday with the nightcap of the playoff twinbill at storied Bandoni Alumni Field being Vanguard Charter against Arupe Jesuit.
“Getting a top-four seed was one of our preseason goals,” Petrovski said. “Now it’s time to get to work.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
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