Devils seniors banking on experience
With Tommy Migchelbrink gone, Eagle Valley will look to score by committee in the 4A SlopeBy Nate PetersonDaily Sports WriterGYPSUM – The move from the 3A to the 4A Western Slope is both a good thing and a bad thing for Eagle Valley soccer.At least, according to the senior triumvirate of sweeper Jordan Meikle, forward Brian McDonough and goalie Ross Herr, it is.The three said the jump up is good because the Devils seniors will get to play better competition in their new league. It’s bad for that same reason, too, because the team’s fourth-year players will have a much harder time making it into the postseason in this, their last season at Eagle Valley.The list goes on. The change may be good, the three said, because their new conference foes will not be expecting much of the Devils coming from a lower classification and they may be able to sneak up on teams.
“No one is going to take us seriously, coming from 3A,” Herr said. Bad, too, though, because the Devils seniors don’t know what to expect from a slate of teams that they have never lined up against.”We still want to win. We just don’t know what were going against,” McDonough said. “We won’t underestimate anyone. A lot of times in our league we were like, ‘We don’t have to bring our A-game today.’ But, we won’t know with any team how good they are, so we’ll go out full bore every time.”The move is definitely good in regard to the fact that the Devils get to go at it against rival, Battle Mountain, twice in the regular season as well as facing off against neighboring Glenwood Springs twice. In the same instance, the move is bad since Eagle Valley doesn’t get to play against traditional local rivals like Basalt and the Vail Mountain School this year.Good, bad. Good, bad. One thing is clear: the Devils don’t get a choice between 3A and 4A, after enrollment numbers pushed all the school’s athletic teams up a classification this year. So, Meikle, McDonough, Herr and the other six seniors on the roster have resigned themselves to making the best of their last year in Eagle Valley red and black, regardless of all the pros and cons.”In 3A, there’s no doubting we would have been a strong team,” McDonough said. “We still are as strong, but the competition is just going to be better. I think we’ll be able to hang with them pretty good, though.”
“It would have been nice to stay there (in 3A),” Meikle said. “We were going to be one of the oldest in 3A if we’d stayed. Now, it’s going to be a totally different thing. Even though we’ve got seniors with a lot of experience, which I think that will help us out in the long run, I don’t know how good we’ll do.”Missing MigchelbrinkLast season’s Eagle Valley squad finished the season with a 7-7-1 record after losing in a state-seeding game for the second year in a row to Fountain Valley. The middle-of-the-road record is misleading, however. For a team that finished exactly .500, the Devils could have been a .700 or an .800 team, being that four of their losses were decided by one goal. The team never lost by more than two also, whereas when it did win, it tended to win big with victories coming by margins of two, three, four, five and seven.The biggest question then, as Eagle Valley heads into the 4A Slope is not whether the team will be able to compete in their new classification, but rather where coach Brian Large’s team will find scoring after losing star forward Tommy Migchelbrink to graduation.Last year Migchelbrink was magical, pouring in 21 goals on the year and almost single-handedly taking over games offensively. Large and his seniors aren’t necessarily concerned about matching up defensively with teams in their new league, being that they were the most physical team in the 3A Slope last year.Being able put balls into the net to win games, however, is a pressing question the team will have to address.
“Tommy was like the only one that would score goals,” Meikle said. “No one else out there really scored a lot of goals. We’re going to have to do a better job of communicating this year if we’re going to win.” “It won’t be a problem of being physical,” McDonough said. “It there’s any problem, it’s that we’re sometimes too physical. The offense is what we’ve had problems with. We’ve got to keep (the ball) outside and set up good shots instead of just dribbling into a crowd of defenders.”One thing is for certain: having nine seniors with varsity experience in Herr, McDonough, Meikle, Kyle Green, Billy Rodriguez, Clayton Griffith, John King, Matt Luczkow and Andrew Hoza is a good thing.Having a talented supporting cast of juniors and sophomores, which is headed up by junior transfer Jaime Fernandez from Pueblo and includes starters Mauricio Lagos and Matt Barker is also a plus. The Devils have their work cut out for them in their conference, but experience should help soften the hard transition.Contact Nate Peterson at 949-0555, ext. 608, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org