Vail Mountain School defeats St. Mary’s, advances to next round of soccer playoffs
School also celebrated 11 seniors during home game
On Senior Night at home on Thursday, Vail Mountain School’s Gore Rangers defeated the St. Mary’s High School Pirates 2-1 to advance to the next round of the Class 3A soccer playoffs.
Gore Rangers coach Jake Rainey said the boys didn’t score as many goals as they would have liked and will go into the next round of playoffs, another home game on Tuesday, hungry for more.
“We had a lot of great opportunities on goal, and the fact that we only put in two is really disappointing,” Rainey said. “Our attack looked really good but we still didn’t put any goals in in the second half.”
The two goals the Gore Rangers scored came within minutes of each other early in the game, the first a classic cross to a perfectly positioned forward, the second a well-placed free kick which capitalized on an-out-of-position goalie.
But Rainey said injuries had shuffled things up on the field for the Gore Rangers, something the players may not have adapted to well.
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Midfielder Peter Hughes is injured and didn’t play on Thursday, Rainey described Hughes as a key cog in the Gore Rangers’ machine.
Rainey said Hughes has the skills to play NCAA Division II or even Division I soccer after high school. Hughes credited the team’s top scorer, Nick Kirwood, for getting him into soccer.
But Kirwood didn’t see much playing time either on Thursday. After suffering a partial tear of the soleus muscle during the team’s loss to Battle Mountain one week earlier, Rainey said he was trying to let Kirwood rest and only playing him during key moments in the game.
Rainey said the team’s game plan going into Thursday was simple: Pass the ball around a lot in the midfield.
The plan worked in the early part of the game, about 7 minutes in the pressure got to the Pirates and they allowed a tough shot on goal from forward Austin Morris, which would have went in if not from the diving, on-the-fingertips save of the Pirates goalkeeper.
After putting the ball back in play, the Pirates were unable to advance the ball to the other end of the field, and Gore Rangers’ Midfielder Max Bradbury dribbled into the corner and launched a perfect cross to Morris, who this time would not be stopped by the goalkeeper.
“It was a very clean ball in, he was right there,” Rainey said.
Frustration ensued following the goal, the Pirates drew a foul and Kirwood, quick to notice the details on field, saw the keeper a little too far forward and launched the ball over his head into the back of the net on the free kick.
“He took advantage of the keeper’s lack of positioning,” Rainey said.
It was the 13th goal of the season for Kirwood and would prove to be the deciding factor in the game as the Pirates were able to score one of their own in the second half.
Kirwood is one of 11 seniors to play on Thursday. Rainey said a few words about each senior during an extended halftime in honor of senior night. He also started 10 of the seniors.
“It was really cool to watch all our seniors playing together in a significant setting,” Rainey said.