Vail Valley preps: Devils dump Demons, 3-0
GYPSUM – As the 4A Slope chase caroms all over the place, Eagle Valley soccer answered emphatically Thursday night.
The Devils pounded Glenwood Springs, 3-0, on their Senior Night/Homecoming game at Hot Stuff Stadium, moving to 22 points, just two shy of league-leading Battle Mountain with one week to go in the regular season.
Not only does Eagle Valley still control its own destiny in the Slope title hunt with games remaining at Steamboat Springs Tuesday and at Battle Mountain Thursday, but the Devils avenged a 2-1 loss at Glenwood earlier this season.
“It’s amazing; 3-0 is awesome,” Eagle Valley senior Steve White said. “It just feels great. It makes it better that it’s Senior Night and Homecoming.”
Eagle Valley moved to 7-2-1 in the Slope and 9-2-1 overall with one of their best performances of the season.
“We were a middle of a transition in our game at Glenwood,” Devils coach Jason Rittmiller said. “It was a little bit tougher for us. I think now we’re where we need to be, and showing our colors. We are showing what we are.”
Glenwood dropped to 4-3-3 and 6-3-4, and is out of the race for the Slope crown, but still very much in the mix for a state-playoff spot.
“Tonight wasn’t our night,” Demons coach John Mount said. “We just got out-worked. We didn’t want the ball as much as they did. They had a quicker pace, it seemed, through most of the game. We just couldn’t seem to get the extra step on it. We were pretty frustrated with our possession, which is usually a lot better.”
Since the critical games in the chase for the Slope title have come down to the Devils, Demons, Battle Mountain and Steamboat, any game among the four has carried added significance and has usually been tight.
Tuesday was the 10th meeting among the league’s top-four teams, and five of those games had ended in draws with the four wins coming by one goal.
Within this context, this affair was uncharacteristically one-sided. Eagle Valley dictated right from the start. Demons goalie Carson Wilde was sensational with countless early saves keeping his team in the game.
“For a 5-foot-7 medium-statured kid, he puts everything into it,” Mount said. “He comes off his line. He’s an aggressive keeper. He’s not afraid to roll the dice and he’s a leader on this team. He’s great to watch.”
Wilde left the game late with a mild shoulder injury, according to Mount, but should be able to play in the Demons’ final two regular-season games next week.
As good as Wilde was, he couldn’t hold off the Devils’ relentless attack forever. Eagle Valley’s Marco Escobar broke in all alone in the 23rd minute and buried his shot into the left side for a 1-0 lead.
In the second half, Eagle Valley delivered the coup de gras. Not only was it critical that the Devils put away the Demons – had Glenwood rallied for the equalizer, Battle Mountain could have taken control of the title hunt – but it was how they did it that definitely boosts Eagle Valley’s confidence going into the final week.
Both tallies were high-quality goals. With 10 minutes remaining, David Shea served a corner kick perfectly to White, who headed the ball past Wilde.
“It’s either me or A.J. (Rhoades) who goes in for the corners and this time I told A.J. to stay back,” White said. “I wanted to go. Dave did the rest. He placed it perfectly. I was there. I was just praying not miss it.”
It was true and then the Devils put some icing on the cake as Nate Barker one-timed an Escobar pass into the Demons’ net in the 77th minute.
While, the Devils have a ton of soccer left, it was Senior Night, and a nice way to cap off the regular-season slate in Gypsum. Before the game, Mario Gonzales, Omar Saucedo, Manuel Holguin, Escobar, Israel Gomez, White, Eddie Campos, Fidel Macias, Gonzalo Gomez, Edy Venzor, Rhoades, Shea, Eliazar Saucedo, Jimmy Velasco, Jesus Fernandez and Cassidy Kuhn were all honored.
“They mean a lot to me,” Rittmiller said. “Each one of them is great. On a personal level, I’ve become friends with all of them. We have a lot of fun. They’ve all put in the time. They’re all working together and they’ve made this possibly the best team Eagle Valley’s ever seen. That’s saying a lot.”
The coach is correct. The Devils won the Slope for the first time in school history last year and right in the hunt for a repeat this season. Both Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain have two games left in the Slope. Eagle Valley is at Steamboat Tuesday, while the Huskies host Rifle.
Wins by both teams Tuesday set up an Eagle County showdown for the Slope championship Thursday at Battle Mountain at 6:30 p.m.
In the meantime, the Devils have a nonleague tilt Saturday at Golden.
“My focus is Saturday now,” White said. “After that, it’s going to be Tuesday and after that, it’s going to be Thursday. One at a time.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
Team W L T Pts
Huskies 7 0 3 24
Devils 7 2 1 22
Steamboat 5 0 4 19
Glenwood 4 3 3 15
Devils at Golden
Steamboat at Rifle
Devils at Steamboat
Huskies vs. Rifle
Devils at Huskies
Steamboat vs. Moffat