Eagle Valley’s Castillo, Shea named first team all-league
Vail, CO Colorado
GYPSUM, Colorado ” Cesar Castillo may get most of the headlines, but if Eagle Valley soccer proved anything this season, it’s this: The Devils are a team.
Every player on Eagle Valley’s roster played a part in its historic season. The Devils won their first Slope title, and advanced to the quarterfinals for the first time in 4A.
Castillo and fellow forward David Shea were named first team all-league by Slope coaches for their efforts this season. Trevor Grayson, Steve White, Gonzalo Gomez and Kevin Escobar were honorable-mention selections.
“It was a great season,” Eagle Valley coach Jason Rittmiller said. “It’s always fun to win. It’s fun to take the team farther than they’ve ever been before. It’s exciting for us all around.”
Right from the start, it was easy to see something was different in Gypsum this season. The Devils went from a team hoping to win, to one that expected to come out on top. The hard work paid off, as Eagle Valley finished the year with a record of 14-3-1.
“It’s a good feeling to win league,” Castillo said. “We waited four years for it. We knew we would win it at the start of the year. We had the talent. We just had to want it.”
Grayson is proud to say he was a part of this Devils team.
“It’s a really good feeling to be able to say we were the first team to be able to do this for Eagle Valley,” Grayson said. “We worked four years to do this, and we finally did it.”
Castillo’s numerous talents could fill a textbook, but the crib notes are still impressive. The senior finished the year with 42 goals, and 105 in his career. His field-vision also helped when passing the ball to teammates for easy goals.
“Obviously, he is one of the best players in the state,” Rittmiller said. “He is a great player. He plays well with the team. He plays well on his own. He is one of those guys that is far from being done (with soccer).”
A critical moment in Eagle Valley’s success this season didn’t come in a game, but in practice. That’s when Rittmiller moved Shea up to forward alongside Castillo. The speedster immediately took to the position, scoring a hat trick in only his second game up front against Moffat County.
“David is a very strong player, with an incredible amount of talent and speed,” Rittmiller said. “He is so fast. I’m really excited for what is going to happen with him next year.”
While Castillo and Shea were busy scoring goals, the rest of the Devils did most of the grunt work. Goalie Trevor Grayson went entire matches without seeing action, but that didn’t affect his ability to knock the ball away when it counted. In Eagle Valley’s second playoff game against Mullen, Grayson made a game-saving play in the closing minutes to preserve the 2-1 victory.
“We saw Trevor’s talent last year and this year,” Rittmiller said. “He is very strong and motivated. He came to practice in as good as shape as anyone on the team. That just proves to me that he was working in the offseason. It’s not because we had a deep goalie bench this year, it’s just because he wanted to be good.”
White and Gomez did an excellent job of controlling possession to keep balls away from Grayson. Credit White for coming back from a month-long ankle injury to play his best soccer of the season in the Devils’ 3-1 loss against eventual state champion Rock Canyon.
Gomez played a versatile role for Eagle Valley. At times, he was an offensive force, like when he rifled a pass to Castillo for the winning goal against Steamboat Springs in the title-clinching victory in Gypsum. Other times, he focused on defense to keep his squad in front.
Don’t forget about Kevin Escobar. Only a freshman, Escobar showed his knack for scoring goals. Playing with twin brother, Nester, and older brother, Marco, the trio formed a tough matchup for opponents.
Sports Writer Ian Smith can be reached at 970-748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.