Vail Mountain edges Salida, 3-2, to advance
SALIDA — In theory, Bob Bandoni coaches Vail Mountain School soccer.
Under variegated skies, he has led the Gore Rangers for years, but he may have lost his job on Wednesday, May 9. VMS and Salida were tied 2-2 during their 3A first-round tilt, and the Gore Rangers needed a boost.
Enter Katie Alonzo, who has a wonky knee.
“When it was 2-2, she was taping up her knee,” Bandoni said. “I’m not exaggerating. She was pretty much making the decision. She was going to get us going again. She had a little bit of a limp, but she put herself in the midfield and got us a little momentum.”
And with 18 minutes left in regulation, VMS’ Maddie Cooper got the game-winner as the No. 23-ranked Gore Rangers knocked off No. 10 Salida, 3-2, to keep the season alive.
VMS’s magical mystery tour continues in Fort Collins on Saturday, May 12, against No. 7 Liberty Common. Kickoff time is to be determined.
The learning curve
VMS (10-6) got off to a great start as Anwyn Urquhart ripped a free kick top shelf for a 1-0 lead. As Gore Rangers fans know, Urquhart can pass as well and she fed Marley Chappel who finished.
Seemingly comfortable with a 2-0 lead, the Gore Rangers faced some adversity with a Spartans penalty kick and the equalizer. Nothing comes easily on the road during the postseason and Wednesday was no exception.
“We have had to develop as we go,” Bandoni said. “We were moving players around and we were a little bit out of sync. We always talk about the in-game learning curve, and you have to keep on climbing. We persisted to get that third goal. It’s a tournament and you get through any way you can to get through.”
Yes, Bandoni just used a cliché, and Coach Alonzo made her decision to play, and all ended well.
Vail Mountain gets two days to recover from its trip down Highway 24 before heading to Liberty Common. And those are more days of wearing orange, the almost mystical color in East Vail.
As a history primer, the Dutch wear orange, are one of the smallest nations competing internationally and won the 1988 Euro Championships. Ten years later, Bandoni, who was coaching the boys’ team at VMS at the time, showed his squad the highlight reel of the Dutch from that tournament and handed out the orange tops to motivate his squad for a playoff game against Bishop Machebeuf. The Gore Rangers won, 7-0, in that game, and orange became the color of the postseason for VMS.
By the way, one can see an original orange VMS jersey from 1998 in the office of athletic director Lisa Isom. It’s autographed by all the players from that team, and a trip down memory lane.
As for Saturday’s game at Liberty Common, the Eagles are 14-1 and had a bye through the first round. The common opponent that catches one’s eye is the Dawson School. The Eagles finished their regular season with a 3-0 win over Dawson. The Gore Rangers lost to Dawson, 6-1, in April.
It is distinctly possible that Bandoni — or new coach Alonzo — will use that as motivation.