Vail Mountain makes first trip to quarters since 2000 |

Vail Mountain makes first trip to quarters since 2000

Vail Mountain School's Clayton Kirwood scores a penalty kick against Jefferson Academy on Saturday and expands the Gore Rangers' lead to 2-0. Vail Mountain School defeated Jefferson Academy, 3-0, and will face Denver Christian in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Anthony Thornton | |

3A state soccer playoffs

Saturday’s games of note

VMS 3, Jefferson Academy 0

Coal Ridge 6, Denver Science and Technology 0

Denver Christian 1, Faith Christian 0

Peak to Peak 4, Roaring Fork 3, OT, kicks

Friday’s quarterfinals

VMS at Denver Christian

Coal Ridge at Kent Denver

Peak to Peak at Colorado Academy

Salida at Frontier Academy

EAST VAIL — Many happy returns to Clay Kirwood and Vail Mountain School soccer.

VMS soccer is back in the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2000 after a 3-0 win against Jefferson Academy on Saturday with birthday-boy Kirwood scoring twice at Bandoni Alumni Field.

Next question — do any Gore Rangers have a birthday on Halloween? We simply ask because VMS will be at Denver Christian for the quarterfinals and two markers might come in handy.

“It’s pretty awesome,” VMS junior goalie John Linn said. “We set out our goal to go further than we did last season, and we did that. We wanted to win the conference, but we didn’t do that. We wanted to host playoff games, and we did that, and we’re in the Elite Eight and we’re proud of that.”

“I’m really proud of the guys,” said VMS coach Pete Petrovski, who was rocking some neon orange pants. “They came out here and played the way we’ve been working on all season long. They knew it was going to be a tough game. We played with composure. We played smart defensively. I’m just proud of the guys.”

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And, yes, it probably was the pants.

“Those were pretty awesome,” Linn joked. “They were probably inspiring.”

Happy 18

VMS looked much more ready to go on Saturday than it did on Friday against Vanguard Charter. The playoff jitters were gone, and the Gore Rangers went to work early.

Ryan Schmidt playing up top seemed to be a good idea on Saturday — the center back has been in various places since returning from an injury. Schmidt fired a shot on a breakaway during the first half and Kirwood, who turned 18 on Saturday, jumped on the rebound for a 1-0 lead.

In the second half, Kirwood seemed to assist Trevor Shelden for an apparent goal with a penalty against Jefferson Academy pending. Instead, the Gore Rangers got a penalty kick, which was kind of strange, and Kirwood stepped to the mark in the box.

Nervous, Clay?

“A little bit. I missed one earlier in the season,” Kirwood said. “I think I did better on this one.”

The miss came in a 2-2 tie against some school called Denver Christian. Against Jefferson Academy, Kirwood’s shot was true.

Chippy game

Both teams weren’t very happy with the officiating as it got late. VMS’ Jon Thomas Singleton got dumped, Petrovski was hacked and he showed his displeasure lobbying for the call. He got it, but also got a yellow card in the process. When he applauded the ref for giving him a yellow, Petrovski got another, which meant his day was over, orange pants and all.

He is certainly not the first coach to get tossed from a game. The pitch’s namesake, Bob Bandoni, had two reds in his day. Petrovski wisely didn’t comment after the game on the officiating or his status for the quarterfinals. (Two yellows or a red card means a player or coach is is not eligible for the next game.)

In the midst of this, Jefferson Academy was targeting Kevin Garcia defensively. The Jaguars hoped that by shutting him down, they could stop VMS’ offense in the second half.

“Just a little more pressure,” Garcia said. “I was just trying to get the ball off my foot faster. I just wanted to keep the passes precise.”

Said passes were superb on the goal of the game. Garcia found Eric Zdechlik along the end line. Master Zdechlik served a gorgeous cross to a leaping Dylan Cunningham, who headed it out of the air and into the net.

Hello, again

And so, VMS (13-3-1) will meet up with Denver Christian (13-1-3) again on Friday down on the Front Range. They played to a draw in September with a Kirwood P.K. miss in September.

The Crusaders also didn’t see Garcia. He was still sitting out his transfer-eligibility period.

“What we’re going to do isn’t going to change much,” Petrovski said. “We’re just going to fine tune. At this point, it’s will.”

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