Indians edge Devils, 1-0
Vail, CO Colorado
MONTROSE ” In terms of losses, this wasn’t a bad one by any means. But that didn’t make it any easier to take for Eagle Valley soccer.
Tuesday, the No. 25 Devils played a solid match, but came up just short on the road against No. 8 Montrose in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.
“It’s a sting now, but as we look back at the season and all that’s happened and how we got through it, it’s been really impressive,” said Eagle Valley coach Jason Rittmiller.
The Devils entered the game with an eight game unbeaten streak after staring league play at 0-4, and played like a team that wasn’t supposed to be intimidated by a higher-ranked squad.
“If you lose by six, you lose to a better team,” Rittmiller said. “We didn’t lose to a better team.”
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Montrose scored early in the game, then slowly retreated into a defensive shell. The Devils settled in and played sound defense, then mounted some offense.
“We got shots and looks,” Rittmiller said. “We were a little sloppy at first, but then started playing our game. We weren’t playing as ourselves for the first 20 minutes or so.”
As they’ve done all season, the Devils played stingy defense, limiting the Indians chances.
“We did a good job,” said Eagle Valley defender James McGoodwin. “The middles were doing a good job of coming back. We played pretty good and I’m sad it turned out this way.”
Scoring chances came for the Devils in the second half, but they weren’t able to find the back of the net.
“I feel like we should have gotten a goal in, but we didn’t quite capitalize,” McGoodwin said. “They capitalized on a lucky moment and it was legitimate. That’s what it takes to be a good team ” to finish. They did and we didn’t.”
Neither side dominated control in the match.
“It was pretty even,” McGoodwin said. “We had a couple chances and they had a couple. They had a real solid defense. We had a couple of free kicks and breakaways we couldn’t quite put in.”
As promised, Montrose locked down on Eagle Valley’s Cesar Castillo.
“They tripled him every time he was on their side of the field, which pushed him to work from further out,” Rittmiller said. “They prevented things with a decent defensive strategy.”
In the dying minutes of the game, however, the Indians killed the clock in any way they could, Rittmiller said.
“They constantly had people standing at the line, subbing them in,” he said. “We were upset with them and with good reason. It wasn’t good soccer. They weren’t playing to play.”
After falling 6-0 last year to Mullen as the No. 30 seed, the Devils unquestionably outplayed their seed this time.
“I told the underclassmen, this puts us in a really good position,” Rittmiller said. “We should be seeded a lot better next year and that makes things easier. We proved to the state that we’re a team worthy of winning. They should be proud. We’ve had a great season.”
McGoodwin thinks Tuesday’s match was just another step in building a strong tradition at Eagle Valley.
“I’m proud of the guys ” they played hard,” he said. “We had a rough start and we really broke through it. I don’t look back on this season with any regrets.”
Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or firstname.lastname@example.org.