Kirwood leads VMS soccer award selections
EAST VAIL — In a moderately above average year for Vail Mountain School soccer, the Gore Rangers had a moderately above average postseason haul.
In a year that saw comebacks, golden goals, shutouts and a postseason run, VMS had four all-leaguers and two honorable mentions.
This just in … Clay Kirwood is good at soccer.
And, thus, he is the 3A Slope’s Player of the Year, all-state (Colorado High School Coaches Association) and, yes, all-league.
Kirwood had 29 goals, which led the Slope, was second in 3A and third in the entire state, regardless of classification.
He scored goals in 16 of 18 games VMS played. Yes, Kirwood feasted on bad teams — all good scorers do. He also logged game-winning goals against Aspen, Basalt and Alexander Dawson during the regular season. In the postseason, he had an unofficial assist on the game-winner against Vanguard Charter in the postseason with a nice overlapping run — he had nine official assists in 2014 as well — and then dropped two on Jefferson Academy in the second round.
Then there’s Denver Christian. He scored both of VMS’ tallies in a 2-2 regular season draw. Down 3-0 in the state quarters, he had a second-half hat trick to send the game into overtime.
“He’ll be the first to deflect the credit to his teammates,” VMS coach Pete Petrovski said. “All he wanted to do was win. Solely scoring goals didn’t motivate him. It so happened that he motivated the team that way.”
Trevor Shelden and Dylan Cunningham don’t have the gaudiest numbers, but if you watched them play, then you know why they’re both all-league and honorable mention all-state selections.
VMS’ play flowed through these two.
Petrovski said that while Kirwood was the leader by example, Shelden was the emotional leader of the squad. In addition to four goals and 11 assists, Shelden was so versatile, moving positions, and often getting defensive assignments.
Cunningham just seemed to have a rapport with Kirwood, assisting the team’s top scorer on goal after goal.
“I was writing up some remarks for tonight,” Petrovski said on Tuesday before all these awards were presented later in the evening. “Their stats don’t do them justice.”
A little bit of fun news here, too. Cunningham is a junior, as is Kevin Garcia, who is likely the team’s all-league snub. That means the Gore Rangers return both of their center-midfielders in 2015.
Good luck scoring
Taking nothing away from Kirwood, but he’s an easy pick for postseason honors. Scorers are exciting and make all-league. Tommy Miller was just boring for VMS, and that is exactly what you need out of a center back.
VMS allowed just 23 goals in 18 games, or 1.27 per game. Looking more closely, the Gore Rangers allowed nine goals in their first three games, including five against 5A Overland. During the final 15 games of the season, opponents scored just 15 times on VMS. (If you need us to calculate that average, Oliver Compton’s going to be upset at you.)
That’s defense and makes Miller a very deserving all-league pick.
“We were so solid defensively because of his leadership,” Petrovski said. “If someone got by the first line, he was always there. He motivated guys and turned them into better defenders. Tommy was truly a leader on that side of the field.”
Kade Manula wasn’t a bad partner in crime either.
An honorable-mention pick, Manula, is the team’s most-improved player during the past two years, according to Petrovski.
“He was so uncomfortable when the ball came his way,” the coach said. “Now, we put him on a top opposing player and Kade was able to turn him back and generate offense in the other direction.”
Bridger Gile was the only underclassman on defense and a freshman no less.
“He’s a phenomenal athlete,” Petrovski said. “He has a super work ethic. The kid’s a sponge. We put him back there and he took it all in.”
Parker honored in volleyball
Despite a rough season in the win-loss column, VMS volleyball (4-15) got a postseason nod as Holly Parker was named honorable-mention all-league.
The Gore Rangers’ middle-blocker is a sophomore.
“I think, with our record, having anyone be mentioned is a compliment of the team,” VMS volleyball coach Mike Garvey said. “For Holly to be mentioned, it’s something to build on. It lets us know we’re heading in the right direction.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.