Vail Valley soccer wrap: Devils win third straight
PALISADE – It may be Palisade, but it’s a big win.
Everything is big in the final nine days of the regular season, and the Devils got the job done Tuesday, downing the Bulldogs, 4-1, on the road.
“For us, a win’s a win, and we’ve got to win to stay in (the playoff race),” Devils coach Jason Rittmiller said. “For me, it was the last chance to get playing time for the guys who are likely going to be varsity next year. This gets them a little familiarity for next year.”
As for this year, Eagle Valley upped its record to 4-3 in the 4A Slope and pulled into a tie for the third and final playoff spot in the league with Moffat County, which is also on 12 points after seven games.
Thursday brings two big games for the Devils. League-leading Battle Mountain (7-1, 21 points) is at second-place Steamboat Springs (5-2, 15 points), while the Devils head to Glenwood Springs.
As is often the case in the league, your rivals can become your best friends pretty quickly. If the Huskies beat Steamboat and Eagle Valley tops Glenwood, the Devils would control their playoff destiny after a rough start to the season.
“I’ve never been the type to study all that,” Rittmiller said. “Win everything you can, and see how everything plays out. I think we’re in a good position to finish out strong. We’re getting healthy, and that’s going to make a difference.”
And given the way the Devils have progressed, one game at a time is not a bad approach for Eagle Valley. The Escobars (Nestor to Kevin) hooked up for a 1-0 lead. Nestor got his second helper feeding Daniel Lopez later in the first half.
Kevin Escobar to Saul Salazar made it 3-0, and Nestor Escobar found the back of the net for the Devils’ last score. Eagle Valley’s won three in a row and four of its last five and is 6-5-1.
The Devils head west to face Glenwood, always a tough place to play, on Thursday. Eagle Valley won the first meeting of the season, 1-0, last week in Gypsum.
“They’re upset about the outcome of the last game,” Rittmiller said. “They’ll come out swinging.”
Vail Mountain 1, Rifle 1
Austin Cerny saved the day for the Vail Mountain School with a goal in stoppage time, giving the Gore Rangers a 1-1 tie at Rifle.
VMS was playing 10-on-11 after losing a player to a red card in the final 10 minutes. But Josh Rosenbach, returning from a knee injury, feathered a beautiful pass to Cerny for the equalizer in the waning moments of regulation.
“I was proud of them for rallying like that,” VMS coach Slade Cogswell said. “They showed great spirit. It puts us in a situation where if we win our way out, we can make the postseason.”
VMS is 1-3-1 in the 3A Slope. As a reminder, when Slope opponents play each other twice in a season, the second game counts as the league contest. The Gore Rangers have Aspen on Friday at 4 p.m. at The Bob as a makeup for last weekend’s SATs.
VMS hosts Grand Valley on Saturday and then is at Basalt on Thursday.
Montrose 4, Battle Mountain 1
Montose’s Jose Zavala and Eliseo Gomes each scored twice as the Indians downed Battle Mountain, 4-1, in nonconference play Thursday.
Montrose doubtless gained a few spots with the postseason seeding committee with the win, while the Huskies dropped a few lines on the bracket. But the big game of the week for Battle Mountain (9-3) is Thursday at Steamboat Springs. A win or a tie against the Sailors clinches the 4A Slope for Battle Mountain.
“I think it’s important for our guys to have a little short-term memory because the next game is one where there’s a trophy at stake,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “Tonight, there we two good teams. One team finished its chances while the other didn’t.”
Battle Mountain’s Cody Hervert did convert on free kick set up by Chris Shea.
The Huskies are at Steamboat Thursday at 6 p.m.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.