VMS faces Faith Christian in Round 1
The last time the Vail Mountain School wore orange in the state playoffs, the Gore Rangers took on Faith Christian in 2000.
This year, VMS, clad in orange, is back in the state playoffs and, surprise, surprise, the Gore Rangers are playing Faith Christian.
The big difference, of course, is that in 2000, the two teams were meeting in the state semifinals, while this year it’s round 1. Kickoff is at 4 p.m., at Faith Christian.
Yes, this year, VMS (6-8-1) enters as the 16th-seed, playing No. 1 Faith Christian. But, there still is a little twist.
“I think there’s some irony, although at that point when we had played them in the semifinals,” VMS coach Bob Bandoni said. “The irony actually was that we had beaten Colorado Academy, which was the No. 1-seed at the time, to get to the semifinals.”
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The message – it can be done. No. 1 can go down, though it can’t hurt to evoke the spirits of Tyler Croke, Andy McConathy, Slade Cogswell, Danny Mackintosh, Oscar Alcantar, Wade Cheatham and Andrew Feldman and company.
Faith Christian enters the game with a 13-1-1 mark. The Eagles won the 3A Metro Conference with a 9-1 record. Their only loss was to Denver Christian; the tie came early in the season against Ralston Valley.
Faith Christian and VMS have common opponents. The Eagle swung through the mountains in September, beating Aspen, 8-2, and Basalt, 4-0.
“You look at the games that are most direct – Aspen and Basalt. It would lead you to believe that their No. 1-ranking is authentic,” Bandoni said. “We have great respect for that. And, at the same time, we are inspired by it. As corny as it could be, there’s really sense of respect for our opponent before we even see them, knowing what they’ve done. Again, there’s an inspiration to try to play and match their level.”
The Gore Rangers will have to match up with a formidable attack, lead by the Eagles’ Ryan Coon, who has 22 goals and nine assists, coming into today’s game. VMS had also best keep an eye on Jared Glattter (13 goals, 14 assists).
“We’re going to play as tight as we can defensively,” Bandoni said. “We’re going to play as directly as possible in terms of the attack. But, you know, we’ve trained hard and we hope that we are going to play at the top of our game.”
VMS smashed Bayfield, 7-0, to get to the playoffs. Though the score is nice, the Gore Rangers acknowledge it wasn’t a good gauge for their level of play.
“It’s hard to judge this last game against Bayfield,” Bandoni said. “But, against Basalt (in the regular-season finale), at least, in the first half, we played our best soccer. If we can play against a team of this caliber and say that we’ve played our best soccer, regardless of the result, then, essentially we’ve done everything we can do.”
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at email@example.com.