Orange surprise spurs Vail Mountain to semis
VAIL — Adding another shutout victory to a schedule full of them, the Vail Mountain School girls soccer team will head to semifinals in Denver next week after a 4-0 win against Clear Creek on Friday.
And they’ll be wearing orange.
An homage to Dutch soccer tradition, the color has long been a symbol of postseason soccer at Vail Mountain School. A new rule this year, however, has all home teams wearing white, much to the dismay of VMS soccer fans. After learning they had made the quarterfinals two weeks ago, the girls were fearing that fans wouldn’t be seeing the brilliant orange this post season.
But coach Bob Bandoni had a trick up his orange sleeve. With a ceremony planned for Thursday to prepare for Friday’s quarterfinal match, he unveiled a new postseason uniform — legal white with bright orange numbers and accents.
“It was all a surprise to them,” Bandoni said. “And it gives us an opportunity to put this into a bigger perspective for the group. We have alumni literally from all over the world emailing messages to the girls sharing memories of when they wore orange, so orange now has a symbolic quality to it, which connects them to a special legacy.”
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Freshman Katie Alonzo, who scored a goal in Friday’s game, said receiving the new white-and-orange uniforms was a special moment.
“It was a really emotional night,” she said. “We walked in, and there were jerseys hanging everywhere. … It was kind of a powerful moment for us, when we put on the orange.”
Freshman Tess Johnson, who scored two goals in the game, said it was “like Christmas.”
“Three of our coaches wore orange when they played on this team, and it has inspired us to fulfill the tradition,” Johnson said of the brain trust of Sylvan Ellefson, Chris Woods and Kaitlin Zdechlik.
Something new, something old
This particular edition of VMS soccer has a tradition of its own — score a lot of goals, quickly, and don’t let the other team score any. And they celebrated that tradition again on Friday, adding another shutout to a schedule full of them this season.
Johnson scored the first goal, signifying the start of a swarming attack sequence.
“We came into the game with the same gameplan we always do, but I think it took us to our first goal to get all the jitters out,” said Ellefson, who once wore orange at VMS as a member of the Class of 2005, after the game. “Once we got to that point, we got a little better.”
And that may be a little understatement.
Johnson’s goal was followed by one from Alonzo, another by Johnson and one by freshman Emma Hall before the end of the half. The second half begun with another barrage on goal, but Clear Creek’s junior goaltender Rebecca Abrahamson was able to hold off the attack. After a quick second half with little interruption, the score remained 4-0 and VMS celebrated in a sea of orange hugs.
The semifinals will be on Wednesday at Denver’s All City Stadium against Denver Christian. CHSAA has not announced game times yet.
“This week in practice, we’ll be working on specific things that we maybe missed during the game,” Ellefson said. “We’re never totally satisfied with how we’re doing, so we always try to push to the next level.”
Reporter John LaConte can be reached at 970-748-2988 and email@example.com.