The fountain of youth is at VMS |

The fountain of youth is at VMS

Shane Macomber/Vail DailyVail Mountain School soccer coach Bob Bandoni, center, takes his players through a defensive pressure drill Wednesday in Vail.

EAST VAIL – The jerseys may be the same, but you are going to need a program to figure out the players when it comes to Vail Mountain soccer this fall.Bob Bandoni has all of five seniors and four juniors. That leaves him with 27 underclassmen to fill his program.But the Bandon is quick to point out, “If Freddy Adu can play professionally at 14 years old, we surely can play in the Western Slope League at 15 or 16.”Senior Max Avery is the lone regular starter back from last year’s team. That squad wore orange, the team’s color of choice in the postseason, in going to the playoffs for the fifth consecutive year. He will serve as the team’s captain.”It’s a young team and it’s very enjoyable,” Avery said. “It’s a lot of fun to play with these guys. They might be young, but we’ve been working well. We don’t have any personal problems to take care of. They play as a team. That’s what we need.”Bandoni, who coaches the team with Charry Morris, Ryan Gray and Dan Verbeten, also needs to figure out who’s going where. Tonight’s scrimmage against Battle Mountain 4:30 p.m. in Eagle-Vail as well as exhibitions Saturday will go a long way toward that.

‘Set in sand’With the caveat that his lineup is “set in sand and the tide’s coming in,” Bandoni’s looking at Matt Stovall and Jordy Coffey in goal. In the back, the prince of Paonia is looking at Drew Riley, Joel Migchelbrink, James Thorne, David DeLine, Reuben Saucedo, Bobby LeGaye and Jackson Dowell among others.Max Avery is a definite at center midfield. “We’re going to tap into his maturity and interpersonal skills,” Bandoni said. “What we are seeing right now are the younger players are comfortable playing with him. He actually brings them to a higher level by virtue of his own play, but also due to the respect he has for his players.”He could be joined by Chris Woods and Blake Armstrong. Up front, Tucker Shelden is penciled in at center striker. Possible outside strikers are Oscar Gaspar, Jackson Higgins and Tony Ryerson.”Right now, we’re doing what we always do, for the most part,” Bandoni said. “Our focus has been a little longer on just individual development, trying to develop technical skills with individual players, so that they are more comfortable with the ball. So, our approach with tactics is quite delayed. Part of the learning that maybe in the past couple of years has come during training will probably not come until we get into the first couple of games.”

Ah, yes, synergyWhat has Bandoni pumped for this season is the leadership that his seniors, Avery, Migchelbrink, LeGaye, Riley and James Thorne, have shown.”Already, it’s clear to me that leadership from the senior class is effective,” Bandoni said. “It’s not necessarily coming from authority that sometimes is assumed by playing prowess. It’s really coming by a moral authority, one that kind of transcends what happens in the field. They’re established kids, very comfortable with themselves and very genuine and enthusiastic on the field, but genuine in their responses to the younger players.”And, of course, no VMS soccer season would be complete without developing ye olde synergy.”We laugh every year about the big S-word,” Bandoni said. “I always think that there isn’t anything more fundamental in industry, in athletics and surely in school communities as synergism. We’re all feeling a bit of excitement with this group because measured by traditional standards, most people aren’t going to have any expectations for us at all. Inside of our camp, we have real high expectations.”The season

As is tradition, VMS, one of the smallest schools in the state to play soccer, isn’t shying away from some good teams. VMS opens against St. Mary’s Sept. 3. The Pirates make a return visit to The Bob Oct. 1.Homecoming? The Gore Rangers are not exactly playing Our Lady of the Worthless Miracle. On Sept. 24, VMS hosts the defending 3A state champ, Salida. VMS also has 4A Summit on the schedule and could well add Battle Mountain as its 15th game.In the 3A Slope, Basalt, as always, is the team to beat. VMS is at Basalt Sept. 8 and the Longhorns are at The Bob Oct. 13. The Slope has three spots in the playoffs and the Gore Rangers have traditionally occupied the second or third berth. “This is really an unknown. I think in the league it’s no question. It’s Basalt,” Bandoni said. “Usually, people would say, ‘All right, the Vail Mountain School is going to be there and so on.’ But again, there are so many questions as to how we are going to perform when we see opponents that I think it’s more difficult than in years past to make predictions that we automatically fit in the second or third spot.””I think we can come with some surprises,” Avery said. “We have a really young team. It’s going to be a learning year. The majority of these guys is young players, but I haven’t set any goals. I’m just looking to get out here and teach these guys as much as I can to play together and have fun. That’s what it’s all about.”Just for kicksWith Morris coaching at VMS, she has hopped the fence from Battle Mountain to East Vail. “We’re happy to be connected to the Morris family again,” Bandoni said. Her husband, Mike, worked with Bandoni for many years. Can Beckett Morris be far behind? … Mark your calendars – Bandoni’s favorite road trip is on Oct. 4 to Paonia. Send us a postcard, Bob. … Some guys named Sylvan Ellefson and Tyler Kjesbo have been working as assistant coaches with the team during double sessions. … And now for your latest rant on the Red Sox from Bandoni: “My concern was with the pitching staff. Now, with professor Schilling back in the starting rotation, it seems to me that we will be back-to-back with the BoSox, which will lead us into a three-peat with the Pats. Now that the prima donnas on ice are back, I would hope that the Stanley Cup will find its way to city of The Big Dig.” Breathe into the bag, Bob.Vail, Colorado

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