Vail Mountain edges Devils, 1-0 |

Vail Mountain edges Devils, 1-0

EAGLE – Welcome back, Sylvan Ellefson.

Sidelined with a bad back for a few games, Ellefson’s return to the pitch against Eagle Valley Thursday afternoon was well-timed.

In the 48th minute, Ellefson took a high pass from teammate, Max Avery, by leaping into the air. He collided with Devils’ goalie Ross Herr, but, in the process, Ellefson managed to head the ball into the net for the game’s only goal and a 1-0 VMS win.

“I remember the ball was served in. The ball was up in the air,” Ellefson said. “The next thing I know, I was on the ground and my teammates were all over me, telling me it was a goal.”

Not exactly the best method of back rehab, but it worked Thursday as VMS raised its league mark to 2-2.

“This goal by Sylvan was so courageous,” VMS coach Bob Bandoni said. “Most players would not attack the ball that way. For him, to come in so strongly on that angle, so high up in the air, it was beautiful. World-class goal.”

For Eagle Valley (1-3 in league, 4-4 overall), it was a tough loss. The Devils had chance after chance, but couldn’t break through.

“Tough luck. You win some and you lose some,” Devils coach Brian Large said. “We had the opportunities. We just couldn’t convert for a goal. Plenty of opportunities. I felt our boys played a good game.”

There were three keys to VMS’ win against a very athletic and talented Devils squad. First, the Gore Rangers forced the play to the sidelines where the more athletic Devils had less room to operate and had less support. Second, credit VMS midfielder Patrick Scanlan with a nice job of blanketing Eagle Valley’s potent Tommy Migchelbrink.

“They were definitely playing Tommy very tightly,” Large said. “They did a good job in marking him. But we still had their opportunities, in spite of them. I told Tommy to be patient. We just need to come back and play them a little better.”

Finally, VMS put forward its best defensive effort of the season.

“Patience is the key virtue defensively,” Bandoni said. “Also, what people forget is that you have to play defense intelligently. We did that as a team. We squeezed a lot of space and, once again, when we would win the ball, I thought we played it quickly.”

That meant that the coach was pleased with the VMS defensive crew of

Duncan Robinson, Blake Higgins, Ray Bernardo, Alex Biegler and Zachary Lucido.

And when it got by this crew, VMS goalie Michael Busenhart was ever-present.

“Boozi just played an awesome game,” Ellefson said. “He’s one of the best.”

Busenhart robbed Migchelbrink twice, once with a fist-save over the crossbar and the second on an indirect kick. Jordan Meikle also had a beautiful shot stopped by Busenhart late in the game.

Just for kicks: VMS hosts Basalt Saturday at The Bob. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. … Eagle Valley hosts Roaring Fork Tuesday at 4 p.m., at the Fairgrounds … Eagle Valley’s Jake Brock got a yellow card in the second half.

Rifle blanks Huskies

Battle Mountain soccer fell from the ranks of the unbeaten in the 4A Slope with a 3-0 loss at Rifle Thursday.

Rifle scored late in the first half and twice early in the second half.

“Over the course of the game, they were the better team” Huskies coach David Cope said. “We created one, clear-cut chance and they scored three. You could say it was a lapse in concentration. It’s disappointing. That’s the way it goes.”

The way it goes is that there is a lot of intrigue to this year’s 4A Slope race. Battle Mountain, Steamboat Springs and Rifle all sit at 3-1 and Glenwood Springs is 2-2. And, by the way, Battle Mountain is at Steamboat Tuesday.

The Huskies lost to Steamboat, 1-0, up north last year and tied the Sailors, 2-2, so Cope is optimistic about his team’s chances.

“We want to be in the top three and we’re in it,” Cope said. “Looking at the start of the season, we’ve had a good start. We’ve beaten the bottom three teams in the league. Now, we have to take some games from Rifle, Glenwood and Steamboat.

“Some of the mystique of Steamboat has to be off with our kids. We played them well in a 1-0 loss up there last year and tied them, 2-2. Moffat beat them. It can be done.”

Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at

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