Eagle Valley shuts out Palisade | VailDaily.com

Eagle Valley shuts out Palisade

Ian Cropp
Preston Utley/Vail DailyEagle Valleys' Mike Smith uses Palisade's Jessie Widegrene to lift himself in the air as Smith goes up to head the ball Saturday in Gypsum.

GYPSUM – That’s how you win a soccer game.Just about everything went right for Eagle Valley in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Palisade.The Devils passed well, defended well and never gave Palisade a chance to come back.”We scored early like we did up in Steamboat (Thursday), but in that game we let them get back into it,” said Eagle Valley’s Coe Roberts. “Today, we kept it together.”Fewer than 10 minutes into the match, Jaime Fernandez went in on Palisade goalie Chris Martin alone, thanks to a masterful pass by Cesar Castillo, and put Eagle Valley up, 1-0.After Castillo collected a loose ball, he moved around two Palisade midfielders and led Fernandez with a low ball heading towards the Palisade box.”It was a beautiful pass,” Fernandez said. “It couldn’t have been any better.”Both Fernandez and Castillo controlled the ball well in the midfield for the Devils.For the rest of the game, the offensive attack was spearheaded by John Gabriel. The tall forward used his height and speed to beat out Palisade defenders.

“He’s a force up there,” Fernandez said. “Every 50-50 ball he gets to, he wins.”In the first half, a long ball sent into the Palisade end left a lone Bulldogs defender facing off against two Devils forwards, one of whom happened to be Gabriel. Gabriel used body positioning to get the ball and move in alone against Martin and score.PostalThe post proved to be Gabriel’s friend and foe, depending on the half. A few minutes into the second half, Gabriel headed a ball that bounced off the left post and went into the net for the score. Had it not been for the left post on the other net in the first half, Gabriel would have recorded his second hat trick of the year. In the dwindling minutes of the first half, Gabriel launched a shot that beat Martin, but smacked the post and went out of bounds.While Gabriel shined on the offensive end of the field, Roberts dominated the Devils’ final third.”Coe put on a clinic in the back,” said Eagle Valley coach Chad Sloniker. “He was marking his man so tight all game.”In one instance, Roberts marked his man a little too tight. On a deflection off a throw in, Roberts went up for a ball at the same time as a Palisade forward. Roberts attempted to head the ball, but the Palisade player tried a bicycle kick, and Roberts got a boot in the chest.

“I was stopping pretty much whatever came at me,” Roberts said.Palisade had trouble maintaining possession deep in the Eagle Valley zone and only managed six shots on net, most of which were slow rollers and went right to keeper Mauricio Lagos.”Coe single handily deflated their forward by winning every ball that came near him,” Sloniker said.Full housePalisade earned what could be considered soccer’s version of a full house. The referee issued a yellow card a Palisade forward, a yellow card to a Palisade assistant coach Renzo DelPiccolo and a red card to Palisade head coach Drake Jandreau.Physical play throughout the game brought about several hard fouls. But the players from both teams didn’t seem to mind, as they often helped each other off the ground without any ill words spoken.”I like the physical play,” Sloniker said. “I tease the kids and tell them that they are playing with their purses because they are not physical enough, so I was happy to see that they responded well to that.”Even with the physical play, the Devils were able to use their speed to beat the Bulldogs to many balls.

“They were all running, and it was hard trying to get the ball past them,” said Palisade’s Michael Inzunza.Inzunza was a force in the Palisade midfield, controlling the ball and sending accurate passes to his teammates.RematchIn the first time these two teams met, Palisade dominated Eagle Valley, winning 4-1. This game, however, the Devils showed a sense of urgency. “Right now, it’s do or die every game, and that’s why we are starting to put things together,” Fernandez said.Eagle Valley hosts Aspen Thursday at 4 p.m.”Hopefully, we’ll keep up the physical play,” Sloniker said. “And when you challenge the ball in the air, good things will happen.”Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 608, or icropp@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado

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