Overhauled Devils return to state
Instead, Graham and his squad have been busy overhauling a 10-5 squad that’s returning to state Saturday for the second straight year against Trinidad, a second-year program in its first state tournament.
The Devils are hoping experience counts, recalling the experience accrued in last year’s 5-0 opening round loss to Faith Christian. They don’t just want to score at state for the first time in the program’s history. They want the first win as well.
“It’s been the best week of practice,” Graham said. “They came out Monday charged up. I don’t remember anything we said. They’re just ready for the playoffs.”
Graham knew the team that fell to No. 2-seeded Basalt 9-5 to end the regular season April 30 wasn’t the one with the best chance to set program firsts.
Leading scorer Brooke Baughfman moved to defense, as did senior captain Lyndsay Beasley. Ex-sweeper Katie Wick moved to stopper. With 11 days off, Graham now has a new team with a new philosophy on the game.
“We’re determined to play soccer like we can,” senior captain Bree Mabley said. “We haven’t before.”
With a new year, a new system, new coaches and a group of talented young players who consider anything but a state berth a disappointment, the memories of cellar dwelling have faded with success.
Even last year’s introduction to the playoffs was tainted by an explosive team chemistry. In the third game of this season against Basalt, the Devils were undefeated, losing by four goals, and on the same path.
“At halftime we were all screaming,” said Baughfman, who has 13 goals and 10 assists this season. “We realized what we were doing and we stopped. This year we’ve grown so much. Last year, we fell apart and were hurting each other. We all get along now.”
Trinidad, meanwhile, won the Tri-Peaks conference in just its second year as a team. The fifth-seeded Miners are coming off a 6-0 loss to Manitou Springs, the No. 14 seed, and are led by Lina Munoz, who has recorded three hat tricks and 16 goals on the season.
“We’re very aggressive and quick,” Miners head coach Camille Gaddis said. “This is our first shot at state. We’re more than real excited.”
Eagle Valley, one year wiser, is no longer happy just being there.
“Last year we were still considered the new team,” Mabley said. “Now that we’re here, we have to make it every year.”
Phillips, a sophomore who has yet to play on a team that’s stayed home for the playoffs, agreed.
“I expect to win,” she said. “Now that we know we can.”
Saturday at 11 a.m. in Trinidad, the two up-and-coming programs will face off.
“There’s a confidence level we haven’t seen all season,” Devils assistant coach Lois Graham said. “We haven’t had that in big games.”
Hot Topics: Trinidad’s three losses (the Miners are 13-3 overall) came at the hands of the three other state-bound opponents from the Tri-Peaks… Eagle Valley is joined by Western Slope foes Aspen (8-5, the No. 11 seed) and Basalt (13-1). Aspen will travel to take on the sixth-seeded Academy of Charter (15-0), while Basalt hosts No. 15 Ridgway (7-6-1)… The winners will advance to the state quarterfinals May 15… Eagle Valley or Trinidad will take on the winner of No. 3 Denver Christian (10-4) and Manitou Springs (10-3).