VMS defeats Saints in family feud, sort of
EDWARDS — Vail Mountain School and Vail Christian are technically rivals in girls soccer, but it’s a competition born of familiarity rather than animus.
After all, the Saints and Gore Rangers wear the same colors in the fall, playing together on club, and the spring, a coincidence of both schools being blue and white. And then there’s the coaching tree — Lauren Mutter, now in charge of the Saints, and VMS assistant coaches Sylvan Ellefson, Chris Woods and Kaitlin Zdechlik all played for the same head coach when they were in high school, the same guy who’s coaching the Gore Rangers again this spring, Bob Bandoni.
So both sides came away happy after VMS won Thursday’s league contest 3-0 over Vail Christian at Freedom Park in Edwards.
“It’s always strange. I play club with (the Saints’) Keelin Robinson,” said VMS’ Kristen Vossler, who had the Gore Rangers’ second goal. “Some of those girls are like family to me, but it’s always a good competition.”
“I still always want Vail Christian to win, but it’s always fun to play against rival teams,” said Mutter, who is a Vail Christian alumna but played for VMS in her day because the Saints did not field a soccer team back then. “It is funny to be on the sideline with your coach.”
Ironically, while the Gore Rangers were more productive on the nonexistent scoreboard in the first half, scoring twice, they played better in the second half. Meanwhile, Vail Christian is showing signs of building its possessions the right way, something that should bear fruit as the season progresses.
“Now we’re able to push the game wide and challenge them to take it down to the line,” Mutter said.
As an example of the internecine nature of these programs, compare Mutter’s quote to what Madame Voss says upon what the Gore Rangers need to improve.
“We need to organize in the back and keep talking and play out to the flanks and crossing it in. Maybe we’ll get a header goal.”
Yep, same system, folks.
As for that header goal, it nearly came off a corner kick in the second half for the Gore Rangers. That was one of several squandered scoring chances for VMS, an area for needed improvement for the Gore Rangers (4-1). The good news for VMS is that Tess Johnson had scored in the 22nd minute on a lovely pass from Grace Merriman. With five minutes left in the first half, Vossler took advantage of a free kick and roped it into the left panel.
“I was thinking that I can only nail them in practice, but we’ll see if I can get them in a game,” Vossler said.
Next up in the parade
While both teams play in the 3A/2A Western Slope, the Gore Rangers and Saints will drop down to 2A for the playoff consideration. That said, VMS might very well be in contention for the league title, having already notched a win over Aspen. The Gore Rangers’ schedule works out nicely with its biggest challenges at the end of the season with games against Basalt and Coal Ridge. By that time, VMS should have its continuing parade of ski racers integrated into the team. In the meantime, the Gore Rangers host the Colorado Rocky Mountain School on Saturday at bucolic Bandoni Alumni Field.
Ellefson, Woods and Zdechlik will be at the wheel and the Bandon will be back east helping his mother celebrate her 90th birthday. (Many happy returns, Madame.) Meanwhile, Vail Christian, still searching for its first win of the season, is at Basalt.
“I just said to her how proud I was of her because their team looked really good,” Bandoni said of the Saints. “They were a formidable opponent. We really had to play. They were putting pressure on us. It made us work on the sideline, making adjustments.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.