Late surge by by Greeley sinks Pepi’s
EAGLE-VAIL – The Pepi’s men’s soccer team was just 10 minutes from the Vail Invitational Soccer Tournament semifinals Sunday afternoon.
It was seemingly in the bag.
Trailing Pepi’s, 1-0, even Deportivo Greeley coach Humberto Vasquez wasn’t too optimistic.
“To be honest, I didn’t think we were going to come from behind,” Vasquez said. “These guys (Pepi’s) play tough. They’re a good team. They’re strong. I didn’t think we were going to come from behind. I’m amazed with my guys.”
Vasquez should be amazed, as were all assembled at Sunday’s quarterfinal. Greeley exploded for four goals in 10 minutes – including two from Ruperto Contreras – for a 4-1 win, ending Pepi’s Vail Invite run.
“The second half, we were up 1-0, but they killed us because we were too flat-footed,” Pepi’s coach Ante Peros said. “We should have picked up the speed in the midfield, catching these guys, like we had been playing the first three games. The aggressiveness wasn’t 100 percent like we were. It was more like 50. We got caught with our pants down. That happens.”
Pepi’s finished the Vail Invite with a 1-1-2 record.
“I congratulated the team. They played well,” Peros said. “This was not 4-1. It should have been like 2-1 or 1-0, but not 4-1. That’s just more embarrassment to us because of that.”
Spirits were high on the Pepi’s sideline, when after 45 minutes of even, scoreless play, the locals scored what seemed to be the game-breaking goal.
Pepi’s’ Edgar Mancera made a spectacular run down the left side and an equally-gorgeous feed to Jeff Hayslip, who slammed it home for a 1-0 lead.
The Pepi’s bench exploded. The shoulders of the Greeley players drooped. Game over? Not.
With under 10 minutes to go, Miguel Espineal started the onslaught, tying it at one. Just minutes later, Contreras broke in alone behind the Pepi’s defense and buried his shot.
Just as the shock was setting in that Greeley was leading 2-1, Edy Herrarte clanked his shot off the right post, but the shot caught the left panel for a 3-1 advantage.
Contreras finished the outburst with a gorgeous shot to the high, right corner.
“That guy is a small guy, but he plays like he’s 7-feet-6,” Vasquez said. “He plays hard all the time. From the moment, he goes on the field, he plays hard. He’s a 10 on a scale of 1-10.”
Earlier in the day, Pepi’s tied Littleton, 2-2, to end pool play. Nacen Gray, assisted by Miguel Ruiz, as well as Doug Schwartz scored for Pepi’s.
America finished pool play with a 5-0 thumping of the Denver Kickers to earn 10 points and the pool title with 18 points. That left Pepi’s and Littleton tied at 17. Pepi’s won the coin flip to break the tie.
For the record, it was heads.
Just for Kicks: Greeley Deportivo lost to Onyx (Mont.), 2-1, in the semis. Onyx went on to win the gold title against the Rocks on penalty kicks. The score was tied a one at the end of regulation and overtime. … Pepi’s is off next week before heading to Denver for the State Cup. … The halftime entertainment of the Pepi’s-Greeley game was provided by young Casey Cope, who took about three minutes to dribble the ball from midfield into the goal. Dad, David, cheered the glorious goal.
Vail women win
The Vail Women’s Soccer Club made it two in a row against archrival Steamboat Springs Saturday with a 2-1 win.
Z Warren started things with helpers going to Steph Caretto and Jen Davin. Caretto. Caretto scored the game-winner.
The real story was that Vail only had 10 players, but Steamboat graciously allowed Vail to get a goalie from the stands.
The good news was that the defense stood on its head and the Vail goalie barely had to touch the ball.
Vail vet Kate O’Connor gave props to the likes sweeper Kristin Meehan, left-back Mikayla Curtis and right-back Kerry Wallace.
“The defense really seemed to set the tone,” O’Connor said. “They were able to control possession and set balls through to the midfield.”
It should be noted that O’Connor modestly omitted her name in this effort. Kate-O played stopper with this crew.
The Vail Women’s Soccer Club, aka the dancing Kate-O’s, head to the Aspen Tournament this weekend. Vail opens against Basalt Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
The team is sponsored by the Vail Cascade and Spa, Alpine Bank and KateO Designs.
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at email@example.com.