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Vail Mountain soccer continues winning ways

Vail Mountain School's Grace Merriman winds up and scores on Thursday against Rifle at Bandoni Alumni Field during the Gore Rangers' 4-0 win over the Bears.
James Mill | Special to the Daily |

EAST VAIL — Vail Mountain School girls soccer took care of business against Rifle on Thursday and then took care of more business.

The Gore Rangers methodically worked out a 4-0 league win against the Bears for the requisite three points at historic Bandoni Alumni Field. VMS also spent the second half of the game looking toward the future.

“You do have to go in with a mission of getting everyone involved in the attack and scoring goals. That’s the nature of competition,” said VMS coach Bob Bandoni. “But, at the same time, you have one foot in the present and you have one foot in the development of the team.”

VARSITY EXPERIENCE

“It’s a great team. We’re working on thinking as one mind. It’s working well. We have a lot of fun. It’s a great team and Bandoni is a great coach.”Grace MerrimanVail Mountain School senior

VMS didn’t face much opposition, moving out to a 3-0 lead after 40 minutes. With the results secured, Bandoni flushed the bench and worked on getting his younger players varsity experience.

The second half was a glorified practice, but at the same time, the Gore Rangers were doing many positive things. What is mop-up time to some is the accumulation of varsity experience for others. These are big moments for these young players.

One need only look to Edwards for confirmation of this. One of the keys to Battle Mountain soccer’s continuing success is using these situations to get younger players playing time.

It’s also somewhat comforting to see a Manula, in this case, Olivia, on the back line. (Her brother Kade has been a stalwart there in the fall.)

VMS worked on switching the field and playing backward to find room to move forward. It’s a counterintuitive concept that had some starts and stops, but the ladies were getting the hang of it.

“You rely on some of the players who have a little bit more experience,” Bandoni said. “You use the context of the game as a teaching moment. You could see that as we went along.”

‘ONE MIND’

One of those veterans is senior Grace Merriman.

“It’s a great team. We’re working on thinking as one mind,” she said. “It’s working well. We have a lot fun. It’s a great team and Bandoni is a great coach. We’re really unified. I think it’s fun to have a group of tight-knit girls like that.”

What was nice to see from a Gore Rangers standpoint was that, even with a different team on the pitch, VMS still scored in the second half, a Tess Johnson to Merriman special.

Johnson, a freshman, was on the receiving end of a Merriman pass in the first half. That was one of two for Johnson. Freshman Anna Hall scored the first, from Merriman.

While beating Rifle (1-7) is not a major accomplishment, the Gore Rangers moved to 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the 3A Slope. While VMS will compete in the 2A state playoffs, running over 3A competition can only enhance the Gore Rangers’ resume.

VMS is off until April 18, when it travels to Craig to face Moffat County.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.


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