Saints’ booters step up to varsity
EDWARDS, Colorado ” There is going to be a first for everything for Vail Christian soccer this spring.
There’s going to be a first goal, a first pass, a first penalty kick and a first win at some point as the Saints begin their first season as a 3A varsity team.
“We’ve got a lot of core players,” Saints coach Barbara Wilson said. “We don’t know what the opponents are like because I haven’t seen them. I think they’re going to be competitive. I know they want to beat Vail Mountain School.”
One might as well add first rivalry to that list. While the Saints and Gore Rangers meet for the first time on the pitch April 5 in East Vail, Vail Christian starts everything Tuesday at Coal Ridge at 4 p.m.
“It’s great,” junior goalie Elizabeth Shearon said. “You start up the sport you really want and you really love it. You get to be the first ones to play it. Later on in years, you’ll get to see everyone else play your sport.”
“We’ll become legends,” senior midfielder Olivia Hesse joked.
The Saints had their initial foray into soccer last spring, playing at the JV level, accumulating a 3-5-2 record. Vail Christian is officially playing as a 3A independent ” there is no 1A or 2A soccer.
While the Saints will play most of the teams of the 3A Slope, they won’t join the league until next year.
Like just about every other soccer team in the state, Vail Christian is dealing with traditional spring issues ” getting athletes from winter sports into practice and dealing with weather.
The Saints, while they don’t have a soccer tradition, do have an athletic pedigree. The roster has volleyball, basketball and track veterans.
Shearon and Dakota Francis are the team’s goalies.
“It’s definitely scary,” Shearon said. “I have two older brothers, so they always threw balls at me. I was like, ‘Why not?’ You just have to get into the mind frame of they’re not trying to hurt you.”
For the record, Dakota Francis likely has some experience in this department with her older brother, Jaryd, although it was likely with a basketball.
On defense, there are familiar names like Allie Parker, Sammantha Francis, Rachel Burnett, Kelly Bowles, Taya Westerberg, Karen Rascon and Jocelyn Garcia.
Bowles, in particular, brings a lot of experience to the Saints, having played soccer with 4A Battle Mountain the last few years.
“She’s been a great leader,” Wilson said. “The girls see what she can do and it gives them something to strive for. It’s helped them see what they can do. She’s had a great attitude through all of this.”
At midfield, there’s Hesse, Alexis Ellsworth, Brooke Bowles, Allison Vossler, Amelia Bremerkamp, Krysti Gall, Carol Vanderveer and Sandra Almanza.
Look for Laura Orduno, Maty Peckham, Hannah Morris, Nayeli Hernandez and Tara Dalbow at striker.
About 40 percent of the school’s girls are on the team, reflecting the enthusiasm of the program which was started on the part of the students’ initiative.
“They really pushed to have this program. They really want to play soccer. That’s the biggest part ” the desire to have a team,” Wilson said. “They work well together. They’re very supportive of one another and they’ve worked hard. They’ve been willing to work on their skills.”
After Tuesday’s game against Coal Ridge, the Saints are at Olathe Saturday. Vail Christian has its first varsity home game on the turf field at Miller Ranch April 1 against the Community Christian School.
The Saints also have home games against Rangely (April 8), Brighton Charter (April 11), Basalt (April 22), Olathe (April 26) and Grand Valley (April 28).
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.
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