Devils put a licking on Eagles |

Devils put a licking on Eagles

Ian Cropp
Preston Utley/Vail DailyEagle Valley's Mauricio Lagos dribbles over Paonia's Kasey Sidor during Thursday's game in Gypsum. The Devils won, 9-2, over the Eagles.

GYPSUM – Winning never seemed so easy. In fact, it was almost too easy, but Eagle Valley soccer was still happy to earn its first win of the year. In a 9-2 trouncing of Paonia on Thursday, the Devils dominated ball possession and scoring opportunities, but had trouble stringing together some passes.”We have been waiting to get a win for a long time,” said coach Clad Sloniker. “We didn’t play as well as I wanted to play, but we got our first win, and hopefully it avalanches from here.”While the Devils may have had trouble passing, they had no problem putting the ball in the net. Only three minutes into the game, Mike Smith put the Devils up, 1-0.Minutes later, freshman Cesar Castillo sent a shot from the right side on Paonia goalkeeper CJ Ballard. Ballard made the save, but Brady Grayson stormed into the box unmarked to put the ball away.

Paonia had trouble defending against the Eagle Valley offense all game. Still, the Devils believe there is room for improvement up front. “We put a lot more effort into our offense,” said Wes Minett. “You can get away with sloppy passes because they are an inexperienced team, but we need to work on dropping square, being more aggressive on 50-50 balls and working the sides better.”Before the game was out of reach, Paonia closed in on the Eagle Valley lead, by scoring to make it 2-1. The Eagles’ Kevin Hernandez popped a ball sky high from over 40 yards outside the goal, over the head of Devil’s goalkeeper Mauricio Lagos and into the net. Moving the net

Not only did the Paonia goalkeepers get pounded with shots, but the net took a beating, too. The Devils hit the woodwork three times during the game, and the end of the first half, the Paonia net had to be repositioned because it had been knocked back almost a foot.At halftime, the Devils led, 4-1. Jaime Fernandez and Minett added goals late in the first half. Both players used deft ball handling to move around several Paonia defenders before beating Ballard.In the second half, Grayson netted an early goal on a pass from Minett. Lagos, who played goalie first half, then moved to midfield, curved a shot with his left foot that hugged the right post and scored. Rounding out the scoring for the Devils was John Gabriel, who recorded a hat trick.”We’ve been waiting for John to flip the switch on for a while,” Sloniker said. “Hopefully, the light will stay on.”Gabriel was happy about his feat, but very humble.

“I think this will definitely give me some confidence,” Gabriel said. “We definitely need to work on passing more and we should not be trying to take it all by ourselves.”Saturday at 11 a.m. the Devils take on Glenwood at home. Sloniker hopes the team will have more discipline with the ball.”We passed the ball four or five times, but when we give it the next pass, we boot it,” Sloniker said. “We need to have the players believe that 10 passes is OK.”Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or, Colorado

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