Pepi’s looks for quarters berth
VAIL – Win and you’re in.
Yes, technically a tie – or even a loss – against Littleton in the final game of Pool A play at the Vail Athletic Field at today 9:15 a.m., and the Pepi’s men’s soccer team can go through to the quarterfinals of the Vail Invitational Soccer Tournament.
But, the locals would like to keep it simple.
“(Today), a tie can get us through, but we’re going for the victory,” said Pepi’s striker Nacen Gray. “We’re all wins in this tournament. Win or nothing.”
Well, Nacen, there are actually a myriad of possibilities, which could test the laws of quantum physics, as far as advancing goes. Pepi’s is 1-0-1 with a 1-0 win over the Kickers and a 1-1 tie against America Saturday. Littleton sports an identical 1-0-1 record and both teams have 12 points after two games. (The tourney uses the 10-point system – six for a win, three for a tie, one for each goal scored up to three, and one for a shutout.)
Meanwhile, America (0-0-2, four points) and the Kickers (0-2-0, zero points) play today at 10:30 a.m., at the Vail Mountain School.
n If Pepi’s beats Littleton, the local 11 wins the pool and advances to play Pool D No. 2 at 1 p.m., at the Vail Athletic Field.
n If it’s a tie, the only way Pepi’s doesn’t advance, is if America beats the Kickers by a margin of 3-0 or greater. America will likely need a shutout to advance.
n If Littleton wins, the Front Rangers take the pool and advance, while Pepi’s races over to VMS to watch the America vs. the Kickers. Pepi’s will be cheering for the Kickers. A Kickers win or an America win by less than a 3-0 margin does the trick.
Got that? Alex Trebek will be on hand to test you on this material later.
In the meantime, Pepi’s treated local fans to a good day of soccer. The Green and White started with a 1-0 win over the Kickers, courtesy of a goal from Gray, assisted by Edgar Mancera.
“Edgar started running with it. I just made a run to the side, behind. We had another guy running to the other side,” Gray said.”So we had two options. He fed me the ball. I didn’t even have to give it a touch. Left foot, far post.”
From there, it was off to the new pitch at VMS, where both America and Pepi’s battled each other and the heat generated by the new, turf field.
After a scoreless first half, Ben Russell set up Scott Ligouri from the right side. Ligouri, a proficient goal-scoring alum from Battle Mountain, knew what to do with it and Pepi’s was up 1-0.
“Ben was midfield-right,” Ligouri said. “He just brought it up and I just kind of waited for him to send it across. I slid for it and barely got a piece of it.”
America struck right back within a minute on a breakaway goal from Adbdul Alrahmen on a defensive breakdown by the local 11.
“If you looked at it from the defensive point of view, our defensive midfield was staggered the wrong way,” Pepi’s coach Ante Peros said. “They were opposite from each other and the ball went right through there. That’s what caught us. You learn from it.”
That was the only one that got by Kyle Mercer, who was spectacular in net for Pepi’s all day. His highlight save came on an America breakaway in the waning minutes, when he dove to his left and fisted away a shot.
Pepi’s had a plethora of opportunities to break the deadlock late from the likes of Gray, Lasse Kirkelun, Mancera, Jeff Leonardo and Daryl Goehring.
And that doesn’t include Ligouri, who had quit an opportunity until he was pulled down in the box by the America goaltender.
“I would have like a PK, perhaps,” Ligouri said somewhat modestly. “I was taken out.”
Finishing will be key for Pepi’s, if the team is to make a run today. If the team advances, the quarters will be at 1 p.m., at either the Vail Athletic Field or Eagle-Vail. The semifinals are at 3 p.m., at either Ford Park or VMS and the championship game is at the Vail Athletic Field at 5 p.m.
Just for kicks: So, coach, how do you prepare for the possibility of playing four games today? “You drink a lot of tequila,” Peros joked. … Seriously, Pepi’s is using its roster to its fullest, subbing in players early and often to keep people fresh. … How tight is this tournament? Every game Saturday was a tie or decided by one goal. … VMS’ new field got rave reviews. “That thing is fantastic,” Ligouri said. “They needed it. It’s been so small in the past. I love it.” … Just for the heck of it, Kevin Egan, you’re in the paper.
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at email@example.com.