Paonia streaks past Eagle Valley |

Paonia streaks past Eagle Valley

Ryan Slabaugh

After years of battling to get a squad, the Eagles proved why they should have had one a long time ago. Saturday morning at the Eagle County Fairgrounds, the team consisting of players from Hotchkiss, Cedaredge, Delta and Paonia thumped Eagle Valley 5-1.

The Devils started well. Tommy Michelbrink received a nice corner kick by Jordan Miekle and slid it inside the left post. Eagle Valley continued to control the ball until Paonia finally broke through in the 27th minute. The Eagles’ Nathan Wood worked alone against three Devils defenders, broke free and found himself one-on-one with Devils goalie Ross Herr. Wood one-touched it into the goal.

The floodgates, as they say, were open.

Paonia added three more goals in the next 10 minutes and one more in the second half as it improved to 2-2 in the Western Slope League, while the Devils fell to 2-3.

“They surprised us,” Devils head coach Brian Large said. “I made some substitutions and it went downhill from there. It was all about who wanted to win the most and we didn’t want it at all.”

Tied 1-1, Paonia foreign-exchange student Arvid Erikson took the ball on a long run, broke free on the right side and converted. Thirty seconds after its first goal, Paonia had a lead.

Both Wood and Erikson scored two goals in the game.

“It’s a confidence builder for sure,” Paonia head coach Yogi Cherp said. “What’s significant for us is we’re being represented by four schools. We’re finding ways to work together.”

In the second half, a strong cross-wind forced the players to keep the ball on the ground. Time and time again, Eagle Valley’s chances carried over the crossbar. Even Paonia’s final goal was wind-aided, blowing like a knuckleball past the Devils defense.

Eagle Valley travels to Roaring Fork Tuesday for a 6 p.m. start. It’s a must win for the Devils.

“I believe we need to win two or more of the next few games,” Large said.

Paonia hosts Vail Mountain School Tuesday at 3 p.m., an hour earlier than the previous schedule.

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