Devils soccer downs Sailors to stay red-hot
Eagle Valley has won four in a row heading into Thursday’s rematch with Battle Mountain
GYPSUM — It took nearly 47 minutes for Eagle Valley’s varsity soccer team to score against Steamboat Springs on Tuesday night. Then it took about 40 seconds for the Devils to strike again.
Those two goals in less than a minute propelled the red-hot Devils to their fourth straight win, a 2-0 result, ahead of their huge rivalry rematch Thursday night against Battle Mountain. The Devils lost to the Huskies, 3-2, back on Sept. 2 in a physical, chippy match, and have been itching for the rematch ever since. Meanwhile, Battle Mountain is coming off three games without a win, including its lone league loss against Steamboat Springs on Sept. 30.
After controlling possession and attacking Steamboat Springs for most of the first half, Eagle Valley coach Andrew Wheeler said he didn’t make any big adjustments at halftime.
“I wanted them to believe in Devils soccer, and I wanted them to keep playing Devils soccer,” he said. “And that’s what they did.”
Devils soccer, to be sure, is matching any opponent in physicality on defense and continuing to press the issue on offense until the goals come.
The first score came on a cross into the box in the 46th minute that Eagle Valley’s Logan Betz headed into the Sailors’ net.
Betz then teed up the assist for the Devils’ second goal just 40 seconds later when he boxed out a Sailors defender with his back to the goal before passing off to a streaking Seamus Phelan, who one-timed a rocket into the back of the net.
“We came back, and we played the way we practiced, and we just pushed up the intensity,” Wheeler said.
After the win, the Devils’ two goal scorers said the win belonged to the team.
“We’re all a family,” Betz said. “Everything is coming together. We have backups who are stepping forward, and the senior leadership is really stepping up to bring this team together during practice or really getting the energy up after halftime.”
“That first goal was really important,” Phelan said. “The whole team was relying on it to come soon. We were playing solid defense, we just know we need to get one in, and we can shut them out the rest of the game for sure.”
The Sailors weren’t without their chances, but Eagle Valley goalie Jorge Bardales didn’t make one miscue while gobbling up and parrying shots from shooters all night. That included taking a cleat to the face during a scramble for a loose ball in the box in the final two minutes of action. After an injury stoppage, Bardales left the game.
The Devils know what’s at stake on Thursday in Edwards — first place positioning in the 4A Western Slope and revenge against their valley rivals. But Wheeler wanted to savor Tuesday’s win first.
“We know who we play on Thursday,” he said. “Nobody needs to say anything more about that matchup. That matchup is what it is. We don’t need anymore bulletin board material or motivation.”
With the win, Eagle Valley improved to 6-2 overall and 3-1 in the 4A Slope, while Steamboat Springs fell to 6-5-1 overall and 2-3-1 in league play.