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Eagle Valley soccer stays hot

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado
EVS David Shea PU 10-4-07
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GYPSUM ” For forty minutes, in the face of a solid Steamboat defense, Eagle Valley soccer abandoned the ball movement that had given it 13 goals in its two previous games.

Then, midway through the second half, the Devils finally broke past the Steamboat defense and put one home. Then, the Devils did it again.

And who was the culprit?

Eagle Valley’s Cesar Castillo.

The Devils came from behind and scored three second-half goals to beat Steamboat, 3-1 Thursday in Gypsum to extend their unbeaten streak to four games.

“That was a tough game and we knew we were going to have a tough game,” said Eagle Valley coach Jason Rittmiller. “We were falling apart a bit in the first half. I told the guys we’ve gotta pull together and do our thing and forget about what (Steamboat) is doing. We got back to our game.”

Castillo netted two goals, one on a free kick, and assisted on Eleazar Saucedo’s tally to push the Devils to 3-3-1 in the 4A Western Slope and 3-5-1 overall and avenge a 1-0 defeat to the Sailors earlier this year.

“We had to get them back from that one,” Castillo said. “We dominated them, we just couldn’t finish.”

Thursday, Steamboat controlled the tempo for the first half, but couldn’t convert on their chances.

“That’s the difference right there,” said Steamboat coach Rob Bohlman. “I felt we had good possession. Eagle was able to tuck away their opportunities, and we weren’t able to do that. That was in difference in the game.

“In the first half, if we had put away another opportunity or two and we go into the second half up 2-0, they are going to have to play out of a lot more desperation and that changes it a lot more in the second half.”

A stifling Sailors defense limited the Devils to two shots on net in the first half, while Steamboat moved the ball efficiently through the field and rattled off seven shots on Eagle Valley keeper Trevor Grayson.

A long goal kick by Steamboat goalie Connor Birch in the 36th minute got behind the Eagle Valley defense where the Sailors’ Sean Hurst snuck the ball by a diving Grayson.

Had it not been for the solid play of Grayson all match, the Devils likely wouldn’t have been in striking distance.

“He knows what to do, and he does it well,” Rittmiller said. “When the defense is falling apart a little bit, he’s playing his game.”

About 15 minutes into the second half, the Devils found some offensive spark and tied the game up three minutes later. Castillo caught the attention of the Steamboat defense as he brought the ball down the right flank and found a streaking Saucedo, who one-touched the ball with his left foot into the Steamboat net.

“Cesar made the run, and I went on to the far post and he crossed it through,” Saucedo said. “That was motivation. Everyone got excited. We were pumped.”

The pressure continued and eight minutes later, Eagle Valley midfielder Steve White led Castillo with a great feed deep along the left flank. After Castillo collected the ball and made his way around a Steamboat defender only a few yards from the end line, he moved to the right a bit and found what little space remained between the keeper and the left post.

“He’s a solid player,” Bohlman said of Castillo. “They found a way to get it done and you’ve gotta congratulate them for that.”

“It was just a matter of passes and more moving around,” Castillo said of his team’s second-half adjustments.

In the 78th minute, Castillo hit the post, but found the net again in the final minute on a free kick about 8 yards outside the Steamboat box.

With several Eagle Valley starters coming off for injuries and fatigue, the Devils got solid play out of the bench. Victor Varela provided a spark at midfield late in the game.

“Victor has improved a lot and played the best game I’ve seen him play,” Rittmiller said. “It gave me the confidence to put him in there in the future.

On defense, Eagle Valley’s Israel Gomez did a great job of shutting down the Steamboat forwards in important one-on-one situations.

With the victory, Eagle Valley hit the 500 mark in league for the first time this season and continues to climb back into playoff contention.

“It was an important thing to get the win, but looking ahead to the end of the season, that was a really big win for us,” Rittmiller said.

Saturday, the Devils host Palisade at 11 a.m.

Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.


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