Eagle Valley advances with 2-1 win
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM, Colorado ” Bad omens greeted Evergreen before the Panthers even stepped off the bus.
Evergreen (7-6-3) showed up at 2:57 p.m. for its 3 p.m. playoff game. Earlier in the day, Evergreen head coach Adrian Ferreira and his car made friends with a deer.
The Eagle Valley soccer team only added to the Panthers’ misery. Playing in weather more suited for ice fishing or hibernation, the Devils captured their first 4A playoff victory with a 2-1 victory over Evergreen in Gypsum.
“It’s big for us,” Eagle Valley’s Cesar Castillo said. “I’ve been waiting four years for this.”
The start of the game was pushed back to 3:30, but it only delayed the inevitable. Eagle Valley (13-2-1) took advantage of two first-half scoring opportunities, then held on after the break to clinch the win.
It didn’t take long for the Devils to strike. In the fifth minute, pressure from Marco Escobar forced Evergreen goalkeeper Connor Gooch to lose control of the ball right in front of the net. Escobar took advantage, scoring the first goal of the game.
“He dropped it, and it hit my foot,” Escobar said. “It bounced back to his hands, but I don’t think he expected it, so it came back (to me). I just chipped it in.”
Fifteen minutes after Escobar’s goal, it was Castillo’s turn. The senior hit a penalty kick from well outside the box. The ball knuckled going into a strong wind, dancing back and forth just like the baseball pitch. At the last second, the ball darted five feet to the right and past Gooch, going untouched into the goal for a 2-0 lead.
“I was trying to get it over (the wall) and get it to drop,” Castillo said. “I didn’t want to lose any speed when it was doing it, though.”
The Panthers responded after Castillo’s shot. Playing with the wind, Evergreen controlled possession a majority of the first half. In the 30th minute, a deflection off a corner kick went right to Brian Greene, who easily scored to cut the deficit to 2-1 before the break.
Devils play keep away
Eagle Valley’s best defense in the second half turned out to be its ball-hogging offense. The wind picked up, and the temperature dropped, giving the Devils a distinct advantage. With Eagle Valley playing in Evergreen territory for much of the second half, the Panthers never seriously threatened to knot the score.
“We controlled the ball really well (in the second half),” Eagle Valley coach Jason Rittmiller said. “By controlling the ball, we kept the ball away from our goal. They got farther and farther away from the goal. If they got a shot, it was a long shot. Our defense did a great job of controlling the ball. We played well.”
Ferreira refused to use the weather as an excuse for lack of offense.
“I don’t think (the weather) affected us to much,” Ferreira said. “Defensively, we did fine. We owned everything in the air. Offensively, we didn’t play the corners like we should have today. We could have worked a little harder.”
The 2-1 victory over Evergreen sends Eagle Valley into the second round of the playoffs for the first time in 4A, and the first time since 1999 in 3A. The competition is about to get a lot tougher for the Devils. On Saturday, Eagle Valley will meet Mullen. All the Mustangs did to open to playoffs was destroy Fort Morgan, 6-0.
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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