Pelz golden: Freedom advance
EDWARDS – Duane Pelz scored the biggest goal in the history of WECMRD Freedom soccer Saturday night.
OK, so the team been around for all of nine games in the Premiere Arena Soccer League, but golden goals are big whether they come in the World Cup or in your backyard when you’re a kid.
Pelz’s marker 4:09 into overtime gave the Freedom an 8-7 win over the Northern Colorado Cutthroats at the WECMRD Field House in Edwards and sent the team to the Flight D championship game next weekend.
“It was awesome,” Pelz said. “We got the win. I just want to go to Vegas. I just want to go to Vegas.”
The winner of next week’s game goes to Las Vegas for the national tournament. The Fort Collins Fury was hosting the Golden Strikers in the other Fight D semifinal. No score was posted on PASL’s Web site as of press time.
Drawing it up
For a while it looked like the Freedom might not see overtime. The locals saw leads of 4-1 and 5-2 evaporate. With 1:56 left in regulation, Northern Colorado’s Taylor Gallegos gave the Cutthroats a 7-6 lead.
But it was Rhino to the rescue. Rhino would be Ryan Quintal who scored with 1:05 left off a mad scramble in front of the Cutthroats’ net.
In overtime, Northern Colorado got the first few shots , but the decisive moment came when the Cutthroats’ Jake Mann took a blue card, giving the Freedom a power play.
Freedom coach Brandt Marott immediately took a timeout out to set things up.
“Power plays are something we’ve been working on all season, just taking your time and waiting for the opportunity because you have two minutes,” the coach said. “We’re a man up, so there’s no good reason why we shouldn’t have good shots on goal.”
From the restart, it was perfect. The Freedom’s Nacen Gray took the ball into the left corner and found Pelz up top.
“Nace and I have been combining almost this whole year in outdoor and indoor,” Pelz said. “We just played a little two-man game in the corner. The ball came to me. The shot was open and it went into the upper 90.”
“I’ve actually seen Duane put that shot over about 50 times this year, including the summer, and this time he put it in the net,” Gray joked.
“It doesn’t matter about practice,” Marott said. “It’s all game time. Tonight that was clutch.”
The two teams split their regular-season matches, so Saturday’s game seemed pre-ordained to be a thriller. Matt Zaremba to Gray twice in the first period game the Freedom a 2-1 lead.
Tomas Cabballeros’ tally gave the Freedom a 3-1 lead and Brad White’s goal, assisted by Pete Randall, with six seconds left in the half looked like it might go a way toward putting the Cutthroats in the coffin.
Quintal scored in the third for the Freedom, but Northern Colorado was rallying. With 10:25 left in regulation, Northern Colorado went up 6-5. The Freedom got a power play and one second after it expired Zaremba crushed a shot from the top of the arc which clipped the left side of the frame and caromed into the right panel to tie the game.
Tied at seven, Freedom keeper James Kenly made a magnificent sprawling save, one of many clutch stops on the night, sending the game into extra time.
“Overtime’s scary,” Gray said. “Losing our lead was scary, but we’ve been pulling through all season when we’ve had to. That’s what we did.
“Duane actually got everyone together before (the overtime power-play) started. He said, ‘We need to get this right here, right now. Let’s get shots on frame.’ We just kept possession of the ball. I don’t think they even touched it. Bang.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.