Eagle Valley Devils storm back for tie
Vail, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” Glenwood Springs gave the 4A Western Slope League leading Eagle Valley Colorado Devils all they could handle and then some on Thursday night before an incredible, last-minute goal by Nestor Escobar enabled the Devils to escape with a 2-2 tie.
It was an incredibly well played and hard fought game by both sides in front of perhaps the largest home crowd Glenwood has played in front of all season. The homecoming crowd got into it early and stayed raucous the entire evening, urging their Demons to hold on for the upset.
Glenwood Springs (6-2-1 league, 8-3-1 overall) almost pulled it off, too. After senior midfielder Fabian Tapia scored in the 44th minute off of a penalty kick, the Demons took a 2-1 advantage, holding the league-leading Devils at bay for 39 minutes of the second half.
But in the stoppage time, the Devils finally broke through despite every effort from the Demons’ defense. Forward Cesar Castillo gathered in the ball on the near side deep in the Demons’ territory. He carried along the sideline before edging towards the goal box and sending a desperation cross to the far post that the oncoming freshman midfielder Escobar snuck past Demons keeper Kurt Hartmann with a wonderful header.
“Cesar (Castillo) took it up the side. I thought (my teammate) Dave (Shea) was gonna get it but luckily I was there and I was able to put a head on it,” a relieved Escobar said afterwards. “It was great,” he added of the team’s effort. “Everybody put their best into it today.”
It could have been said about the play by both sides. For the first 15 minutes, the two sides traded possession almost evenly with a slight edge to the Demons. It wasn’t until a deep entry into the Devils’ zone was saved by Travis Whitman along the endline and subsequently crossed into the Eagle Valley goal box.
A diving effort by Trevor Grayson, the Devils keeper, kicked a gift of a rebound right to the waiting foot of junior forward Sydney Van Horn who wasted little time in taking advantage of his luck.
The goal, in the 17th minute, gave the Demons the early 1-0 lead and most importantly, the confidence that they could hang with the best their league had to offer.
Glenwood continued to put the pressure on Eagle Valley (8-1-1 league, 11-1-1 overall) the entire first half, which came into the game a game ahead of second-place Battle Mountain in the 4A Slope standings.
However, in the 33rd minute, Eagle Valley’s Gonzalo Gomez took a throw-in from about 40 yards out and carried it down the line before turning the corner about five yards out and beating Hartmann with a very well-placed ball from along the endline.
The score remained tied 1-1 at the half but within four minutes Glenwood would take the lead on Tapia’s penalty kick goal and from there, the momentum sat squarely on the Demons’ sideline.
“Our guys came out to play today,” Glenwood Springs head coach John Mount proclaimed. “They wanted this game. We played our game and Kurt Hartmann in the back just had an exceptional game with some very key saves. … It was an evenly-matched game and unfortunately we were unable to hold on for the win.”
The tie means Eagle Valley still controls its own destiny for its first Slope title. The Devils host Steamboat Tuesday at 4 p.m. at the Gypsum Sports Complex. Meanwhile, Glenwood Springs remains in the top four and in a fight for one of the playoff spots available. The Demons have three games left with a trip to Battle Mountain this Saturday.
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