Soccer outlook: Three for the show
It never ceases to amaze me that soccer, of all sports, is my favorite to cover. I remember when I started here in 1997 I didn’t know a thing about the sport.
I recall sitting in Bob Bandoni’s office on the old Vail Mountain campus, absolutely feigning any form of soccer knowledge.
Bob: So have you played before?
Bob: That’s good so that we can share a level of sophistication as a common frame of reference.
What I did not mention to Bandon was that the last time I had played ” or sat the pine ” was on the Town School for Boys sixth-grade C-team in 1984. (By the way, back them, we were weren’t called the developmental squad or the third 11, just the C-team, likely made of future titans of business and technology, not to mention sports writers.)
My first game was VMS winning at Steamboat, 3-1. For the trivially-inclined, Matthew Slevin, Ian Russi and Chad McConathy scored for the good guys, while, yes, Bucky Bennett ” tormentor of the Western Slope before the likes of Christina Aiello, Scott Ligouri, Andy Banner, Kelly Labor, Stephanie Spor and Kelsey Sanders came along ” had the Sailors’ goal.
This game was telling in so many ways. The face of Slope soccer is ever-changing, despite Battle Mountain’s run in the 4A league and Basalt in 3A.
In 1997, VMS was THE soccer powerhouse in the county. The Gore Rangers whipped up on the Huskies and Devils in league play ” everyone was in 3A at the time ” and was the county’s only representative in the state playoffs.
Battle Mountain later in 1997 finally got the monkey off its back, beating Eagle Valley, 2-1, for the first time in three years. But both schools pretty much stayed out of the league’s Northern Division cellar by beating up on Moffat County, Whiteman ” a school which has since dropped the sport ” and each other.
As we head into this season, the scene is a lot different. All three teams should make the state playoffs, and the Huskies and Devils could be battling it out for the 4A Slope title.
This is going to be a fun fall, kids.
The Eagle Mountain-Battle Valley ” showing no bias here ” rivalry is hardly one usually when it comes to competition. With the exception of basketball, one side owns the other and I can’t remember a time the two schools have gone head-to-head for a title.
That changes this year. It’s going to the Huskies, Devils and Sailors battling it out for the Slope title.
Eagle Valley went 6-7-2 last year which doesn’t mean a thing. The Devils started 3-3 on the pitch, but had to forfeit the wins because of an ineligible player. At 0-6 after the forfeits, Jason Rittmiller’s crew went 6-0-2 down the stretch, including a tie against Battle Mountain.
Aside from the usual “let’s not have Cesar Castillo do all the scoring,” which the Devils seemed to get past last year, Eagle Valley needs to polish its competitive edge. The Devils will bring their best against the Huskies, Steamboat and Glenwood Springs. The key is how they play against the lower tier of the league.
What was troubling for Eagle Valley last year was a loss at Moffat County and a 5-4 overtime win against Palisade. To make the games count against the top tier of the league, Eagle Valley has to take care of business against the basement squads.
Intriguing game: Sept. 6 vs. Golden ” It’s about time Eagle Valley upgraded its nonconference schedule, and this is a darn good way to start. The Demons made the state quarters last year by dumping Battle Mountain, 3-1. This will be a great early-season test.
As for the Huskies, it’s strange to say ” but title No. 4 last year was good, but not great. Last year was a transition of sorts for Battle Mountain, as quite uncharacteristically for a David Cope team, the sophomores started to take the helm from the Class of 2008. Cope started six sophomores in the playoff loss at Golden.
The “kids” (Connor Tedstrom, Marco Escobar, Clint Hervert and Jair Molina, to name a few) are now juniors. They need to lead and develop a new chemistry. And when you through in now-seniors Marco Ordono, a healthy Hugo Parra and Davy DeChant, the Huskies are officially cooking.
By the way, I don’t have a vote ” why not? ” but I select Connor Tedstrom as captain. It’s unfair, but with the graduation of former BMOC Jonny Stevens, young Tedstrom is rapidly become the male face of Battle Mountain sports.
Intriguing game: Sept. 11 at Montrose. Yes, the Huskies are at Cheyenne Mountain later in the year, but I want to see how Battle Mountain stacks up against the Indians. The teams met last year with the Huskies playing a listless first half before rallying in a 3-2 loss. How the Huskies fare in the rematch will say a lot.
Up Interstate 70 in East Vail, VMS has the makings of another very quiet and successful season. The Gore Rangers lost Chris Woods and David DeLine in back to graduation, which creates a leadership hole, but VMS is deeper than in years past.
Sean Minett proved to be a solid goalie ” nothing personal, Carder Lamb, but we don’t want you in net again ” in the tradition Aaron Vandeford, Tyler Croke and Michael Busenhart. And VMS has probably the best soccer player in the county who gets the least ink ” Tony Ryerson.
Basalt and Aspen, as usual, are in the way, but the Gore Rangers seemed to chip away last year at the so-called invincibility of the soccer heartland known as Highway 82. VMS beat both the Longhorns and Skiers on the road, before losing to Basalt at home when Minett got hurt, which eventually led to Lamb’s legendary shutout against Aspen.
Speaking of Aspen, the Skiers are again on tap Homecoming. Do we just give Ryerson the penalty kick at the beginning of the game?
OK, seriously, 3A soccer has a 32-team playoff field this year, so expect orange at storied Bandoni Alumni Field come October.
Intriguing game(s): One cannot accuse VMS of having a nonconference cream-puff schedule. The Gore Rangers have 4A Steamboat and Summit and 3A defending champ, Denver Christian. But it’s Sept. 6 vs. Basalt and Sept. 18 at the ‘Horns. Payback time.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.