Orange VMS off to Lutheran Parker
EAST VAIL ” The orange is out, and it’s really brighter than in person than one thinks.
“I remember my freshman year, the first thing I did after we got our jerseys was run home and put it on,” said now-senior Chris Woods. “It’s definitely going to be big honor wearing the jerseys, remembering the players who have worn it before us.”
The orange uniforms, distributed for the first postseason appearance three years, do bring up good memories ” the rout of Machebeuf in 1998, a win over No. 1 Colorado Academy in 2000 and the overtime triumph against Denver Lutheran in 2004.
The current crop of Gore Rangers hopes to make some new orange moments starting today at 3 p.m. at Lutheran Parker ” not to be confused with the Lights.
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Vail Mountain has not been to the playoffs since 2004 when Patrick Scanlan scored a golden/orange goal against Denver Lutheran. A few seniors on this year’s VMS team were freshmen on that squad, but the postseason is a relatively new experience for the Gore Rangers.
In the meantime, Lutheran Parker is making its second playoff appearance in school history. The Lions were the 15th seed last year and fell to Colorado Academy, 2-0, in the first round.
This is Lutheran Parker’s first home playoff game. The Lions likely got a taste of the playoffs Friday, defeating Alexander Dawson, 1-0, to clinch the North League title.
“It was very big,” Lions coach Joel Palmreuter said. “It had actually been one of our goals since the beginning of the season to beat Alexander Dawson, and to win the league. We now in kind of new territory.”
No. 8 at No. 9
One of the curious aspects of this game is that No. 8 VMS is at No. 9 Lutheran Parker. That’s because CHSAA automatically awards home game to league champions regardless of seed.
Ironically, Palmreuter likely had the same reaction to VMS on Sunday when the draw came out.
“I saw that we were the ninth seed and thought we were on the road,” the coach said. “My assumption was that we were going to be in the top eight to get a home game. Then I looked down (on the Internet posting) and saw that we were at home. It doesn’t make much of a difference between being No. 8 or No. 9.”
Meanwhile at VMS, the Gore Rangers are OK with being on the road.
“Coming into the seeding, we were going to get a home game or not,” Woods said. “There was no expectation that we were going to get a home game. It’s kind of disappointing, but we want to focus on the game no matter where it is.”
Lutheran Parker and VMS have nothing resembling a common opponent. The Lions are 12-3 with losses to No. 15 Evangelical Christian (3-1), Denver Lutheran (3-2) and Machebeuf (4-0). It should be noted all of those losses came early in the season. The Lions have won nine straight coming into the playoffs.
That stretch includes wins against Dawson (No. 11), No. 16 Arrupe Jesuit (4-2) and No. 15 Colorado Springs School (2-1).
Kolt O’Kelly (18 goals) and Kurt O’Kelly (16) will be an issue for the Gore Rangers as well as Zach Loptien. Based on playing time during the season, Garrett Menke should get the call in net.
VMS had a light practice Monday, more concerned with fine-tuning than preparing for the Lions.
“It would be so theoretical that it wouldn’t make any sense, VMS coach Bob Bandoni said. “Our players have been trained to make adjustments. That’s really the beauty of this game. It’s really in the hands of the players. We have an integrated group so they work together. They tend to make adjustments .”
Palmreuter was equally in the dark about the Gore Rangers. RockyPreps.com has Tony Ryerson listed with four goals. We’re pretty sure he has 11 more than that.
“It’s hard to know,” Palmreuter said. “We don’t know much about Vail Mountain. They played (No. 6) Denver Christian and played well (a 4-2 loss), so that gives me a little bit of a clue. I’m guessing they’re tough to score on.”
Turf, sweet turf
Lutheran Parker plays on turf, which is happy news for the Gore Rangers.
“That’s great,” VMS’ David DeLine said. “That a big deal for us. Our team plays much better on turf than on grass because of our field here.”
VMS got mixed news on the injury front. Striker Jackson Higgins is down to quite questionable with his ankle injury. Meanwhile, the team got striker Blake Armstrong back from a concussion.
“I think he adds an important presence,” Bandoni said. “What I’ve noticed is that when he is in the game, he enhances our creativity. Also, he exudes confidence and people pick up on that. There’s an intrinsic leadership there.”
In a related development, Armstrong is healthy, but may not play. That’s because Woods, DeLine and Armstrong all picked the Rockies to win the World Series, while the coach in a not-so stunning development, has the Red Sox in six.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.