Minett, VMS hold off Longhorns
EAST VAIL, Colorado ” Vail Mountain School goalie Sean Minett doesn’t really remember his team’s last meeting with Basalt on Oct. 6, 2007.
Early in what turned out to be the 3A Slope championship game, Minett got a foot to the head from teammate Ruben Saucedo and a nasty concussion. The Longhorns, already up, 1-0, won, 3-0.
“I don’t remember anything,” Minett said. “I remember doing my pregame ritual, hitting all the posts and that’s it. I wake up and the Rockies are in the World Series.”
Well, actually, Colorado finished off the Philadelphia Phillies in the Division Series on Oct. 6, and won the pennant nine days later, but you get the point.
Saturday in the rematch, and the league opener for both teams, Minett was the difference in socreless draw at Bandoni Alumni Field.
“It was definitely on my mind. I had to calm down before (the game),” Minett said. “To tell you the truth, I was a little bit scared. They’re a really good team. They have really good players, a really good coach. It was another game, I guess. You’ve got to push through injuries. Everyone else does. Gotta go.”
Minett did and as a result Basalt had to settle for a tie and one point, while VMS had to feel pretty good about the outcome.
Basalt had the majority of chances in the second half, and proceeded to pepper Minett. As all goalies do when they’re on, Minett got a little help from the post on a good opportunity from the Longhorns’ Kenneth Reyes. Teammate Craig Riggins was wide right on the ensuing possession.
Minett stuffed Reyes on a breakaway later, but Minett’s most glowing save came later on a Riggins breakaway. Minett came off the line and looked beaten, but somehow got a hand on Riggins’ shot, pushing it wide.
“We have no excuses,” Basalt coach John McDermott said. “We had the opportunities and we just didn’t finish. Vail’s always been a hard game. This is every year. We won here last year. Two years ago, it was a draw, too. We know it was going to be a hard game. Both sides played really well.”
VMS’ fitness seemed to pay off late. The Gore Rangers looked surprisingly fresh, considering they had played at Summit County the night before. While the Longhorns were clearly keying on the Gore Rangers’ Tony Ryerson, VMS got its best chance late in regulation when Ryerson dished the ball back to midfielder Carder Lamb whose shot went over the bar.
Ryerson had the only major opportunity in extra time, miss-hiting an indirect kick.
The two teams meet again in Basalt on Sept. 18, but before that, expect some major tweaking. VMS played the entire second half without center-back Forrest Graves, who had a bad hip flexor. The Gore Rangers also lost Charlie Grant to a right-shoulder injury.
Coleby Henzlik did an admirable job filling in for Graves, as VMS surprisingly went to just three players in back.
“You could see that we were getting outflanked a number of times, but they have good speed on the outside,” VMS coach Bob Bandoni said. “I thought we played pretty well. I thought we managed that situation well. It’s not only tactics, but asked a little more of our fitness.
“It also asked a little bit more of the unity of the team. They had to play more as unit in order to manage that deficiency.”
And though Bandoni will never admit it, the draw capped a very good week for VMS. The Gore Rangers went 1-1-1 with road games at 4A Steamboat Springs and Summit and with Saturday’s draw against league favorite Basalt.
Meanwhile, Basalt upped its record to 0-2-1, and since the two losses were to Kent Denver and Denver Christian, perennial 3A powers, the Longhorns look primed for a run in the Slope.
“The beginning of the season is sort of like going into outerspace,” McDermott said. “You can’t really check anybody. This is (VMS’) first (league) game, so we don’t know how they’re going to compare. You just have to go at each game one at a time, and try and be ahead of the next team you play.”
Both teams next play Roaring Fork. VMS heads to Carbondale Tuesday, while the Rams are at Basalt on Thursday.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.