VAIL- Last year, the Pepi’s men’s soccer team didn’t lose a game in pool play at the Vail Invitational and didn’t advance to the quarterfinals.This year, Pepi’s dropped a game and naturally will be advancing to the Elite Eight.Entering the day with a 1-0 record, Pepi’s blanked Shahin, N.M., 2-0, Saturday before losing to the Denver Soccer Club by the same score.”It’s tough for your confidence to lose one,” Pepi’s’ Nacen Gray said. “You just got to look at it that we’re through to Sunday. That was our goal. Just win them all from there. Sometimes the ball doesn’t go in the net. We had our chances.”There will be plenty more chances today. The questions are where and against whom.Using the 10-point system – six for a win, one for a goal up to three and one for a shutout for pool play – Pepi’s and Casual F.C. are tied for first in Pool A with 19 points. Pepi’s has the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of beating Casual, 3-0, Friday.
Things, however, are likely to get much more complicated this morning. The Denver Soccer Club is sitting on nine points, going into today’s 8 a.m. match with Shahin. The Denverites need a 3-0 win over Shahin to collect 10 points and make it a three-way tie atop the pool. In that case, the tiebreaker becomes goal differential.Pepi’s and Denver would be at plus-three and Casual at plus-two, leaving the latter as the odd team out. In this scenario, Denver would win the round robin and Pepi’s would play the No. 1 seed from Pool D today at Ford Park at 11:30 a.m.If Denver loses, ties, scores fewer than three goals or allows a goal against Shahin, Pepi’s wins the pool and takes on the No. 2 team from Pool D at 11:30 a.m. at the Vail Athletic Field and Casual would also advance.As for who’s coming out of Pool D, that’s an even more confusing situation. Each team has played two games and plays another round-robin game today. The Rocks lead with 13 points followed by El Muneco (10), Itesm, Mexico (seven) and The Sick Nasty (four). The Rock plays The Sick Nasty today, while Itesm faces El Muneco, so the top-two seed are completely up in the air.Pepi’s could have solidified its own position with a win against Denver, but it was not to be. Former Pepi’s player Josh Pittman scored the game-winner in the 16th minute and the visitors iced it with an insurance goal.Pepi’s was a bit hamstrung without sweeper Marcus Schoup, who was sitting out a red card he received against Shahin earlier in the day.
“That changes the dynamic,” Pepi’s coach Jeff Hayslip said. “Sweeper’s an important position. Daryl (Goehring) did a good job filling in, but we also need Daryl to be up front. That was an issue.”Pepi’s had no issues against Shahin Saturday morning. Goehring and Eddy Schoenbein scored in the 2-0 victory.Wherever Pepi’s lands in the quarterfinals today, the locals hope to have a long day. The semifinals are at 2:30 p.m. at either Ford Park or the Vail Athletic Field. The title game is at 4:30 p.m. at the Vail Athletic Field.After Saturday’s action, Gray was sipping a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.”The beer tastes better tomorrow after 4:30 p.m.,” he said.
Just for kicksEdgar Mancera had two goals and Jeff Leonardo had one in Pepi’s’ 3-0 win over Casual Friday. … In other action, the Rovers took Pool B with 20 points, Aguilas, the defending champion, took the second spot, also with 20. That left the Denver Kicker Veterans as the hard-luck squad, not advancing with a strong 19-point performance. … Pool C is up for grabs. America and Colorado Sporting Gold are tied with 12 points, followed by the Denver Kickers at 10 and Chiva Lucero (zero). America likely has the leg up on the top seed as it faces Chiva Lucero today. The Kickers and Sporting Gold will likely be playing for the second spot from that group. Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or via cfreud@vaildaily,com.Vail, Colorado