Pepi’s future in tournament uncertain
After two games on Saturday and a tie on Friday, Pepi’s club soccer team is not guaranteed a spot in Sunday’s finals at the 33rd Annual Vail Invitational Soccer Tournament.
Pepi’s, the only Eagle County team represented in the tournament, has never – to the best of veteran Jeff Leonardo’s knowledge – failed to earn a spot in the final day of play.
Pepi’s started off the tournament with a 1-1 tie against El Muneco Pumas on Friday. Pepi’s early game on Saturday resulted in another tie, 0-0, against Panaderia El Alamo of Greeley.
“We had a really good second half,” said Pepi’s stopper Daryl Goehring. “We created a lot of really good chances. We didn’t finish, but it probably should have ended that way. Both teams had two attacks with the ball off the box. So, it probably should’ve ended with zeroes.”
As for Pepi’s third game of the tournament on Saturday afternoon against Brighton, it was just plain ugly. Pepi’s came away with a 1-0 victory, but the actual game was a lowdown, dirty soccer game.
The first half was not relatively volatile and ended with no score.
Five minutes into the second half, things heated up as Pepi’s right-winger Eddie Schoenbein was tackled down by a couple of Brighton players. Schoenbein caught an elbow in the face from Brighton’s Jose Ponce on the way down, and, after the play was done, came up swinging.
Schoenbein threw a punch – he didn’t necessarily land it – and he and Ponce received yellow cards.
The Brighton team did not approve of the referee decision not to give Schoenbein a red card as deliberately punching another player is an offense that demands a red card.
Play resumed, and Schoenbein and Ponce took temporary seats on their respective benches.
Both teams could not capitalize on opportunities for most of the half, as Pepi’s Kyle Mercer and Brighton’s Javier Vargas were solid walls.
Mercer’s most spectacular save came when Brighton’s Carlos Martinez struck a deadly penalty kick from 25 yards out. The shot looked like it would dip over the hands of Mercer, but Mercer got his fist on the shot. The ball came back into play, but Brighton kicked it out of bounds.
Brighton and Pepi’s each received a hefty stack of yellow cards before the game was done, and Brighton’s Eliodoro Miranda received a red card in the closing minutes. But, Schoenbein’s presence became a key factor to Pepi’s victory in the end, as Schoenbein kicked the crucial cross that assisted Goehring in his game-winning header with two minutes left in the game.
“(It was a) very ugly game; one of the ugliest games in memory,” said Goehring. “It’s unfortunate. We got a win, which is some points, but we’ll have to wait for tomorrow for it to be official. This game was pretty disappointing.”
Leonardo agreed that the game was disappointing.
“It wasn’t really a game. It wasn’t fun,” said Leonardo.
Vail Invitational Soccer Tournament Director Joel Rabinowitz had this to say: “It’s a human game.”
The fate of Pepi’s will be decided by the outcome of Brighton’s game against Panaderia El Alamo today at 9:15 a.m. at Ford Park.
If Pepi’s gets the opportunity to play today, the game will happen at 11:30 a.m. at either Ford Park or the Vail Athletic Field.
Andrew Harley can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 610, or at email@example.com.