Phillips, Mickley boot Rams, 5-3
Blink, and you might have missed a goal Thursday at the Eagle County Fairgrounds during the Lady Devils 3A Slope home opener against Roaring Fork.
Eagle Valley and Roaring Fork combined for a jaw-dropping five goals in 10 minutes during a wild stretch in the second half, in which Devils striker Sam Phillips unloaded three goals into the Rams’ net to put her team up by two when the dust finally settled.
The Devils senior captain’s effort proved to be the difference in the game as both squads went scoreless for the remainder of the game and Eagle Valley held on for a 5-3 win to remain atop the 3A Slope standings after two games.
“The first half kind of stunk. I wasn’t feeling it. I had shin splints really bad,” Phillips said after the game. “In the second half when those went away, I played the way I’m used to playing.”
The Devils had plenty of good opportunities in the first half, but couldn’t seem to put the radar on lock until Roaring Fork took a 1-0 lead.
That lead came off of a free kick from Tarn Udall, who from about 25 yards out, lofted a shot over the head of Devils goalie Mary Cochrane into the right corner of the net.
The Devils answered back less than a minute later. Sophomore striker Tanaee Mickley made a run for a loose ball in front of Rams goalie Whitney Campbell and was able to tip the ball away for an easy blast into an empty net.
“I just kept going and hit the ball and she lost track of it,” Mickley said. “Then I just got right back up and scored off of it. I wasn’t going to stop.”
Mickley gave the Devils their first lead of the game 12 minutes into the second half off an assist from Phillips. With Campbell anticipating a shot towards the right side of the net, Mickley blasted a crossing shot that flew past the goalie’s outstretched hands and into the top-left corner of the net.
With the score at 2-1, goals suddenly started pouring into both nets like tourists pouring into Vail at Christmas.
Roaring Fork tied up the game when Megan Zeigel lofted a shot over Cochrane’s head in the 63rd minute.
Then, on the ensuing kickoff, the Devils drove the ball right down the field and Phillips took a nice pass from Sarah Reed and slid a low shot past a diving Campbell to give the Devils the lead.
“It was an awesome give-and-go from Sarah and then I just kind of went through the defense,” Phillips said. “A little lucky. It was a good shot. I thought it was one of my best shots ever.”
Eagle Valley held their one-goal lead for all of two minutes.
In the 67th minute, Zeigel struck again when she, Cochrane and another Eagle Valley player ran into one another going for a ball in the box. Cochrane seemed almost to have the ball in hand before it squirted out, and Zeigel pushed it into the back of the net.
At 3-3, Phillips again took over. In what was the most impressive two sequences of the afternoon, Phillips first blocked a Rams’ goal kick and squared to fire her second goal into net. Then, she ran circles around two Roaring Fork defenders in the box before squaring up to fire another heater past Campbell for the hat trick.
Both goals were unassisted and both came within a minute of one another.
After the game the Devils captain smiled when asked if she felt the pressure to be the hero, after the Rams had proved they weren’t to be taken lightly.
“Whenever the other team scores, it just makes me mad,” Phillips said. “It makes me want to go for it. I’m out there to win. I felt like I needed to go score some. Everyone should feel that way, that they need to play harder. I certainly do, because I’m one of the leading scorers. If we’re behind, I feel like I need to score.”
Added Eagle Valley coach Daiva Katieb, “We had a lot of opportunities in the first half, but didn’t connect. We pulled it out when we needed to. I never lost confidence. Even after we came off the field after the first half, we controlled the game the whole time. We slipped up on defense a few times and paid for it, but I knew that we would come back.”
With the win, Eagle Valley improved to 2-0 in the Slope, 3-0-1 overall.
Nate Peterson is at 949-0555 ext., 608 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org