Eagle Valley soccer clinches spot in playoffs
GYPSUM — Eagle Valley soccer is in the playoffs.
There will be no biting of fingernails, no researching of other results around the state, no crossing of fingers.
The Devils are in after blanking Summit County, 3-0, on Thursday night at John Ramunno Field. They have one of the three Western Slope region’s automatic bids along with Durango and some other Western Slope school in Eagle County.
That’s Eagle Valley boys soccer’s first bid since 2009, and that made for a wonderful Senior Night for the Devils.
“I think it’s the cherry on top of four years of trying to build a program,” said Devils coach Bratzo Horruitiner, who sounded like a proud father. “We’re still a young program in my eye. But we’ve learned from our losses and bounced back. We’ve had our fair share of losing, but we’ve learned. These guys are talented and committed and I love that.”
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The previous three years weren’t pretty in the win-loss column as the Devils went 15-27-3, but even in last year’s 6-8-1 campaign, the seeds were being planted. Eagle Valley scored upsets against both Battle Mountain and Steamboat at home. The Devils beat both of those squads again this year and they weren’t upsets.
Eagle Valley finished the regular season with a sparkling 12-3 record and will get its playoff draw on Sunday. While the maxpreps.com rankings are not the be all and end all when it comes to seeding, the Devils are ranked No. 12 behind No. 11 Steamboat Springs, which lost on Thursday.
That would seem to indicate landing a top-16 seed, which would mean a home game in the first round on Wednesday. Chsaa.org will be the focus of everyone’s attention on Sunday.
In the meantime, the Devils did what they needed to do on Thursday night. Aaron Ledezma to Juan Garduno gave the Devils a 1-0 first-half lead. As expected, the visiting Tigers gave Eagle Valley a tougher game the second time around. Consider it a sign of respect that opponents know the Devils are a good team and are going to give them their best effort.
Ledezma scored both in the final 40 minutes, the first from Noel Ruiz and the second from Nikolaus Opel.
Although there’s more soccer to be played, the Devils did send off their seniors in style.
They are Bryan Grado, Ledezma, Luis Arredondo, Aldo Palacios, Paco Serna, Ruiz, Irving Carbajal, Alan Zubiran and Cristian Perez.
“I love every single team I’ve been a part of, but I’ve been a part of building this team from the beginning,” Horruitiner said. “They are leaders. They show initiative. They’re great kids who are going to be respectful young adults. I’m looking forward to seeing them succeeding in life.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.