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Vail Valley soccer: Freedom, Fury to meet for third time

SPT Freedom 2 KA 01-03-09
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EDWARDS – Somebody’s got to win this time.

Really, we mean it. When the WECMRD Freedom and the Fort Collins Fury meet for the third time on Sunday at 6 p.m. in Premiere Arena Soccer League Flight D title game, there will be overtime.

And given these two teams’ history, it does seem like it should come down to extra time. In Fort Collins, the site of Sunday night’s game, the Freedom erased a 4-0 Fury lead for a 4-4 tie. In the rematch at the WECMRD Field House, the two teams deadlocked at six.

“It was nice to get our first overtime win last week,” Freedom keeper James Kenly said of his team’s 8-7 win against Northern Colorado in OT. “That sits in our subconscious, so if it happens again, we know we can do it. But after 60 minutes, the last thing you want is a 15-minute sudden-death overtime. I hope we can get the job done in regulation.”

So while there were certainly some local fans who hoped Golden would upset Fort Collins in last week’s semifinal – the Fury won, 9-3 – so that the Freedom would be home for the title game, it comes down to this.

“We wanted the Fury to win,” Freedom coach Brandt Marott said. “This is the ultimate match. I want to find out who is the better team. If we win, there is no doubt who the champions are.”

And the champion will represent Flight D, aka the Rocky Mountain Division, at nationals in Las Vegas. Before the local side starts planning its casino action, the first priority is getting ready emotionally for the Fury,

With the aggregate score at 10-10, the two teams are not the best of friends. After the 6-6- tie in Edwards, both teams showed some of that after the game, and neither side wants that again. The key is to play with emotion, but not too much.

Marott cites how his squad played against the Northern Colorado Cutthroats last week in an 8-7 overtime win.

“What we’ve been talking about the last couple of weeks is checking our egos at the door,” the coach said. “Last week, we were a lot more calm and didn’t take silly fouls. Our goal is engaging them and making them foul us. We have to contain them defensively and not dive in.”

Foul counts are critical because once a team gets to six fouls, it’s a power play for the other side. And if the Freedom needed any more of a reminder, Duane Pelz scored his golden goal against Northern Colorado while the Cutthroats were a man down.

The results don’t lie. These are the two best teams in the league. They match up well because they both play an aggressive and fast style of game, which has made for entertaining matches.

The Freedom will try to create some space against the Fury by pulling its defenders back, leaving a void for its midfielders and forwards to operate. Kenly drew up a basketball analogy in describing how the team will try t play.

If one’s guarding a player who doesn’t shoot well, one guard for the dribble or the pass. If the opponent is a complete player, the defender is trouble.

“We need to be clever in varying our attack,” Kenly said. “Our attack may be me throwing a direct ball to the forwards or it may be a simple pass to one of the back. If we’re able to demonstrate that variety all over the field, they’ll be forced to respect us on both sides of the ball.”

The Fury, the defending champion of the league, will have home turf for Round 3. With a long trip on Sunday, the Freedom will take more time so that its members can prepare appropriately for the game.

“It’s important for us to get there early, and get some runs in,” Marott said. “We need to get our soccer legs. We’ve had the misfortune of getting to a road game too close to game time and we were not properly prepared. We’ll get there in plenty of time to warm up and engage them with at the first whistle.”

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


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