Vail Gold brings home the gold at Vail Invitational soccer tournament
Gold becomes the third local team in almost five decades to win the Vail Invitational
VAIL — For only the third time in almost five decades a Vail Valley team won the region’s top summer soccer tournament.
The Vail Gold won the 49th annual Fred Ammer Vail Invitational Soccer Tournament. The tournament has been through a couple of iterations, changing the name from the Pepi’s tournament to the Fred Ammer tournament in honor of Ammer’s work establishing soccer in the valley, but it remains one of the state’s marquis summer soccer events.
This year, 22 teams traveled to the valley from as far away as Chicago.
“This is one of the first years a local team brought home the trophy,” Vail Gold coach Mike Schneider said.
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Local soccer legend Cesar Castillo put this year’s Vail Gold team together with players from Freedom FC, the local arena team that advanced to the national finals, some players from Battle Mountain High School’s state title team also joined a few from FC Denver, where Castillo also plays.
“Cesar was amazing, as always,” Schneider said.
Tough road to the Gold’s gold
The road to the title was grueling. The Gold played five games in two days during last weekend’s blistering heat to reach the final. They tied their opener and won everything else, but every game was tough.
After a 1-1 tie in their opener, the Gold won their next two matches, both 1-0 shutouts by Gold goalkeeper Diego Gonzales. In the national last spring in Cincinnati, Gonzales saved two penalty kicks in the nationals and scored the winning goal in a shootout.
That tie and those wins were enough for the Gold to win their pool and advance to the semifinals.
After a full match and an extra period with no winning goal scored, the Gold and the AC Legends went to a shootout. Alonso Quintana drilled home the winner for the Gold, sending the Gold to the finals against Harpo’s, a Denver team.
“We had to play the final just 45 minutes after our semifinal win. We went into the final pretty beat up and tired, but we jumped on them early,” Schneider said.
The Gold scored two quick goals to take control of the match. The Gold’s Marco Escobar had an incredible header to outjump much taller defenders.
Harpo’s answered with one of their own, midway through the second half.
Martine Vasquez, Ricky Coreveo and the rest of the defense made it stand up for the 2-1 Gold win over Harpo’s, the defending champion.
Along with Castillo, Stevie Palma, Marco Escobar and Alex “Pepito” Trujillo helped carry the Gold offense.
“I’m so proud of the hard work the whole team has done,” Schneider said.
The Gold have been invited to play in the U.S. Open, a nationwide tournament beginning in August and continuing through September. They’ll host at least one match in Edwards.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.