Gruber, Vail Mountain School tame Delta again
EAST VAIL — Meet the most hated man in Delta, Colorado — Robby Gruber.
The Vail Mountain School senior defender just owns Delta. That’s all there is to it. During Vail Mountain soccer’s regular season game against the Panthers, he scored the golden goal and during Saturday’s second-round playoff game at Bandoni Alumni Field, Gruber struck twice against Delta in a 2-0 victory that sent the Gore Rangers to the Elite Eight for third year in a row.
“I don’t know,” Gruber said. “Coincidence, I guess.”
VMS (14-3) hosts Colorado Springs Christian on Saturday in the quarterfinals. The tentative kick-off time is 1 p.m.
In the meantime, Robby, don’t ever show your face on U.S Highway 50 southeast of Grand Junction. Steer clear, kid.
Perhaps, there was a bit of worry among the orange faithful, having to play Delta again in the playoffs. The Panthers really pushed the Gore Rangers a little more than two weeks ago in that 2-1 overtime win.
The difference this go-round was the midfield. It possessed and possessed in VMS coach Pete Petrovski’s new 3-5-2. That’s Eric Zdechlik, Pablo Aziz, Peer Carnes, Nathan Rouaud and Kevin Garcia.
Delta did not have the chances it had during the regular-season tilt, and it was only a matter of time before VMS would capitalize.
The big takeaway is that the Gore Rangers stuck to the game plan, something easier said than done. And this experience will be helpful down the road.
“It’s nice to know that they can fall back on this, and whatever happens, if they stick together, good things will happen,” Petrovski said.
“The big difference between (our) last game (against Delta) is that we really believed in each other and had confidence that we would come through,” Garcia said. “We controlled the game the entire way through, which assured us that we would come out on top. Staying relaxed and knowing that you’re playing for your teammates helps out a lot.”
The break finally came in the 62nd minute. Appropriately, Zdechlik produced a terrific run up left side and got pulled down in the box. Gruber got the penalty kick.
“That was my first P.K.,” Gruber said. “I wasn’t that nervous because even if I missed I knew we would find a way to score again.”
But it’s Gruber and it’s Delta and that was a 1-0 lead.
Four minutes later, Garcia got a free kick and fed it beautifully to Gruber for the redirection.
“That was perfect feed,” Gruber said. “It was pretty awesome. From that point on, I knew we had the win. It’s a good feeling.”
All eight of the top seeds in 3A advanced through the weekend. Coal Ridge is at Kent Denver, while Colorado Academy hosts Jefferson Academy and Denver Science and Tech is at KIPP Denver Collegiate.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.