In an offensive explosion, Devils fall short | VailDaily.com
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In an offensive explosion, Devils fall short

Ian Cropp
Vail, CO Colorado
SPEV GS Nicole Luczkow TS 04-10-08
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GYPSUM ” Only seven minutes into Thursday’s game, Eagle Valley found its offense.

And for the next 73 minutes, the Devils ran lock step with that offense. The only problem for Eagle Valley was that Delta did the same thing.

In a back-and-forth shootout in Gypsum, the Panthers came up on top, 8-5.

“I don’t know what happened. We just put it together today,” said Eagle Valley’s Nicole Luczkow, who led her team with a hat trick. “It’s the first time we’ve had offense, really.”

Prior to Thursday, Luczkow had the team’s only goal. But two days after the Devils’ best defensive outing of the year in a 4-0 loss at Palisade, they found the net with ease.

“That was our best offensive performance of the season,” Eagle Valley coach Francois Nanin said. “And it made us feel good because we’ve been beat up and beat up, but the girls are still having fun, and that’s why I love the team.”

Delta’s high-scoring senior Stephanie Spor netted four goals, bringing her season total to 20.

“She’s leading the league in goals,” Delta coach Julie Mottern said. “She’s been all-conference three years. Hopefully, she can be MVP this year.”

The teams traded leads five times and combined for eight goals in the first 20 minutes of the second half.

“That was a heart-attack game,” Mottern said. “Way too much scoring.”

After Eagle Valley took a 1-0 lead on a beautiful strike by Luczkow in the seventh minute, the Panthers answered with a pair in the 15th and 16th minutes. The Devils tied the game at 2-2 in the 36th minute on a Luczkow penalty kick that came courtesy of hard work by Devils midfielder Samantha Villa, who was tripped in the Delta box. Luczkow added her third on a penalty kick in the second, cutting the Delta lead to 6-5.

On the penalty kicks, Luczkow coolly slammed the ball into opposite corners of the net, despite some nerves.

“I thought, ‘Oh, no, I haven’t ever practiced these,'” she said. “We haven’t done any PKs in practice.”

Eagle Valley’s Megan Cochrane, who plays goal on occasion, added a pair of goals. On her first, which knotted the game at 3-3, Cochrane collected a pass from Luczkow and then dribbled toward the Delta goal. As the Delta keeper came out to challenge, Cochrane launched a shot over her head and into the net.

One minute later, Cochrane fed Luczkow, who drew a pair of defenders then dished off to teammate Pearl Nanin. Nanin’s shot hit the post, but Cochrane found the ball and smacked it between two defenders into the empty net.

“We couldn’t deal with Eagle’s speed,” Mottern said. “They have good speed and are able to counter. They catch us flat-footed, and we’re on the chase.”

Devils keeper Sydni Schlegel was in solid position all game and made plenty of stops on point-blank shots.

“That was her second time in net at the varsity level,” Nanin said. “She did a great job. And I’m proud this week of the bench girls, who … are playing for the starters who are hurt or have problems with grades. They stepped up and played, and that’s why we had five goals today.”

Tania Solis led an Eagle Valley defense that played most of the 80 minutes without substituting.

On Saturday, Delta heads to Battle Mountain, while Eagle Valley travels to Rifle.

“It’s very easy for us tomorrow to come back to practice because the girls have the vision of what they can do,” Nanin said. “They can see we can score now.”

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


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