Vail Mountain tops Rifle, 1-0, in opener
EAST VAIL – Cal’s turn.
The Vail Mountain School freshman got to watch his brother, David DeLine, Class of 2008 and a co-captain for the school’s last state-playoff team, play Gore Rangers soccer for a few years.
Cal DeLine made the most of his first opportunity on varsity, scoring in the 58th minute, lifting VMS to a 1-0 win over visiting Rifle on Tuesday at Bandoni Alumni Field in the season opener for both teams.
“It’s a little more fun,” younger DeLine said. “It’s definitely more exciting.”
And thus, VMS’ merry band of brothers – all 13 of them with one player injured (Josh Rosenbach) – started the season with a win and three points.
“This team is playing hard and training hard,” said coach Slade Cogswell, who begins his second year at the helm of the program. “They’re putting in the late hours. They have a tremendous amount of heart. For them to receive reward for the dedication is good.”
Meanwhile, Rifle (0-1) leaves, knowing that it will be competitive in its first year of 3A soccer after moving down from the 4A Slope.
“The boys, they stayed positive as a team, even when they went down, 1-0,” Bears coach Ryan Mahler said. “They were passing the ball around. It’s just getting touches and getting familiar with each other. This was a lot of guys’ first varsity high school game. They’re getting their feet wet. Hopefully, as the season goes on, they’ll progress.”
After a scoreless first half, VMS tinkered at the break, trying to get more numbers forward to pressure Rifle’s defense. That bore fruit when DeLine picked off an errant clearing attempt and lofted the ball neatly into the right side of the Bears’ goal.
“This team is playing very intentionally,” Cogswell said. “We’re able to tell them, ‘Look for this place, try to utilize these combinations,’ and they’re responding. It’s really encouraging. They’re growing really quickly.”
On the other side of the field, VMS freshman goalie William Sterett likely aged a few years late in the second half. With less than 10 minutes to go, Rifle’s Fernando Carreon broke in all alone. Sterett got made a great save on the shot, the Bears’ best chance of the game.
Carreon got his own rebound, but his second shot went into left panel of the net, ending the threat.
“This is (Carreon’s) second year playing soccer,” Mahler said. “It’s a heartbreaker. What can you do? You learn from this experience and go forward.”
“He’s good,” DeLine said of Sterett. “First, it’s, ‘Oh no, I’m not back.’ Then you see William stop it and you say, ‘Thank God he’s down there.'”
Rifle is at Hotchkiss Thursday at 4 p.m., while VMS heads to Roaring Fork on Saturday for an 11 a.m. match.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.