No end for Vail Mountain School soccer awards
EAST VAIL — Where’s Jeanne Macsata when you need her?
The Vail Mountain School teacher and queen of orange did the team introductions for the school’s soccer playoff games, and her services are needed here.
In one form or another, pretty much all of the Gore Rangers’ starting lineup took home postseason honors.
The coach jumps
There are always gripes with postseason awards, and that will happen below. The state and the 3A Slope got this one right, though. A guy with solid, but not flashy numbers — eight goals and six assists — got top honors.
Senior Dylan Cunningham is first-team all-state and the 3A Slope Player of the Year.
These awards usually go to a player with gaudy on a successful team, say like Clayton Kirwood, who got both last season and was off the charts with 29 goals and nine assists.
No disrespect to Master Kirwood, but the strength of this year’s team was midfield play, and the leader of that unit was Cunningham.
“I was extremely happy when the votes came out (at the league meeting),” VMS coach Pete Petrovski said. “I jumped out of my chair. Here’s a kid who’s the Player of the Year from a conference that had two teams in the state semifinals (Coal Ridge).”
Cunningham’s partner in crime in the middle of the midfield was Kevin Garcia, and he earned second-team all-state, along with all-league. Like Cunningham, the junior had solid numbers, six goals and nine assists.
Yet the message from opposing coaches within the Slope and around the state was that they knew it started with the midfield. If Cunningham and Garcia, the outside mids get going, as did the backs and the strikers, then opponents were in trouble.
The twins and Bridger
OK, Peter Ferraro and Liam Hurley do not look alike. After all, Ferraro has the much-talked-about man bun, or mun, as it is called. Ferraro’s smaller. Hurley’s bigger.
Yet, good friends on and off the pitch, they share the same brain wave, an instinctive ability to know where the other one is at all times.
Both are honorable mention all-state and earned all-league honors on that first team. Hurley led VMS with 15 goals, while Ferraro was tops on the squad in overall scoring (12 goals and 13 assists).
Also honorable mention all-state is Bridger Gile, one of the rocks of the defense. Here’s where we start to get to question marks. Gile earned honorable mention all-state and didn’t make first-team all-league. Hmmm. (He’s honorable mention all-league.)
What was likely bad news for Gile on the all-league front is the good news for VMS in general. He’s a sophomore, and underclassmen are not the favorite of all-league voters. On the other hand, Petrovski will probably keep him for the next two years.
History repeats itself
Erik Zdechlik joins Cunningham, Garcia, Ferraro and Hurley as first-team in the Slope. While all-league voting is done before the postseason, Zdechlik had an outstanding postseason, including the golden goal in Round 2 against Vanguard.
Honorable mentions for the Slope also included defender Robby Gruber and goalie Colin Rouaud.
How good was the defense? It allowed 16 goals in 18 games. As for Rouaud, he’s sort of the soccer version of Cardale Jones. Rouaud started the season likely third on the depth chart and ended up piloting the Gore Rangers to the Final Four.
While it’s not mathematically possible for all 11 starters to make the all-league team, this year’s snub — an annual tradition in all-league voting in any sport — has to be Pablo Aziz. As Zdechlik was to the left side of the midfield, Aziz was the right side.
The good news for Aziz is that he’s in good company. Last year, Garcia got blanked in all-league balloting, and things worked out OK this year.
Too bad, Pete
Petrovski kept it low key, but the word leaked out on Tuesday. Petrovski is the 3A Slope Coach of the Year. The players found out about it and presented him with a plaque at the season-ending banquet.
Petrovski said that he considers it a team and staff award.
Meanwhile, the Gore Rangers will return 10 of 11 starters for next year from a 16-2-1 team. Cunningham is the only senior. VMS soccer is probably ready to start the 2016 season, say, in about a week.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.