The Saints find their soccer stride |

The Saints find their soccer stride

Chris FreudDaily Sports Editor
VCGS Parker 5-2-07 KA

Jackie Parker is best-known for her volleyball skills, helping lead Vail Christian to its first state berth last fall. Kristin McGinty, Samantha Francis and Allie Parker were also on that memorable squad. Molly McGee is a cross country and track star.Hannah Morris is a fixture at St. Clare when the Saints take to the basketball court every winter.But they’ve got a new pastime in the spring – soccer.The Vail Christian girls’ soccer team just finished its first season of competition Wednesday, competing as a junior varsity squad. And, for a team, representing a student body of just about 100, the Saints had 22 young ladies out on the pitch.”I knew that I had some players who had played before,” Saints coach Jamie Allen said. “But as a whole, I didn’t really know what to expect. But what I saw when I looked at the roster was a bunch of athletes from our school, kids who had played state volleyball, kids who had played on the basketball team. I knew that regardless of what kind of soccer players we had, we had good athletes.”What I try to do is try to direct that athleticism downward toward their feet.”The Saints’ foray into the world of soccer had its ups and downs as would be expected of a first-year team – they went 2-5-3 – but the experience of being the first Saints soccer team surpassed their mark in the standings.”Come on, this is a legacy,” Morris said. “There’s not going to be first Vail Christian soccer team again. This is special.”

Student ledThere have been rumblings for a little while about starting Saints’ soccer. Vail Christian students petitioned athletic director Mike King to add the sport and proposed a plan for the team to come to fruition.That made life for Allen much simpler.”Going into it, I knew that all 22 of the girls we ended up with wanted to be there,” he said. “They were in this 100 percent. It made my job easy. I came out and told them what I could.”The Saints started the season as most High Country teams do – in a gym. Getting out onto the fields at Freedom Park helped bring the team together.Several Saints had previous experience from either playing with the Vail Valley Soccer Club or in the Battle Mountain or Eagle Valley programs, but soccer was still a new experience for some.”At first, a lot of girls hadn’t played before, so it was hard,” said Parker, one of the team’s two seniors along with McGee. “But everyone picked it up quickly and did a really good job.”With a new team, rookie mistakes will happen and Vail Christian was no exception.”Probably our team scoring a few goals on ourselves a couple times,” Morris answered when asked about the difficulty of being a first-year team.”It’s a lot of fun. It’s kind of frustrating at times, but it’s a really good learning experience,” she added. “There’s team bonding and it’s a growth experience.”

‘Little things’The Saints have been able to measure their progress during their maiden campaign. Vail Christian opened its season against Battle Mountain’s JV, and got thumped, 3-0. By the end of the season Wednesday, the Saints held a 3-1 lead in the rematch before the depth of the Huskies’ very established program took over and Battle Mountain came back for a 4-3 lead.More importantly, Allen has seen his charges grow from day to day in practice. The random touch of the ball has become a pass. Shots on goal now have purpose.”It’s those little things which make where our level is right now into what Battle Mountain does right now, the team that does the little things well,” Allen said. “Hopefully, we’ll be at that level, similar to what (Huskies coach) Dave (Cope) has taken Battle Mountain to.”Of course having athletes with experience never hurts. After Wednesday’s game against Battle Mountain, Parker was sporting cuts on both of her knees from diving to the turf just as she had hit the court in volleyball last fall.”You have players like Hannah and Jackie who are willing to do whatever it takes for the team,” Allen said. “Taya Westerberg has played forward every year she’s played soccer. This year, I put her at defense because that’s where I needed her and she was willing to step up and do it for the good of the team. These young ladies have done a great job about getting this team started on the right foot.”Next stop, 3AVail Christian has lofty ambitions – and they are sooner rather than later. The Saints will hit the pitch next year as a varsity team in the 3A Western Slope. (There is no 1A or 2A soccer in Colorado).”It’s going to be a lot of fun,” Allen said. “At the JV level we’re as competitive as anyone. We’re only losing two seniors. We need to be thinking going into next year that we’re going to be competitive in our league from Day 1.”

The Saints will be tangling with perennial state contenders like Basalt and Aspen, and their entry into the league likely will ignite a new local soccer rivalry with Vail Mountain. If the two school’s battles in volleyball are any indication, their meetings in the spring will be lively ones.”I think it will be good competition,” Morris said with a smile.” I’m excited for it.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstThe roster for Vail Christian’s first girls soccer team which just completed its first season Wednesday:SeniorsJackie ParkerMolly McGeeJuniors

Hannah MorrisLaura OrdunoOlivia HesseKristin McGintyNayeli HernandezNere BlancoSophomoresErika SchmidtKirstie EckertAllie ParkerTaya Westerberg

Samantha FrancisKrysti GallMaty PeckhamAllison VosslerElizabeth ShearonMorgan WyrickTara DalbowFreshmenJosie TuthillBrooke BowlesRachel Burnett

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