VMS falls in shootout
A bunch of the Gore Rangers were hanging out in the gym with their volleyball counterparts, partaking of soda and ice cream, while getting some tips from the spikers on serving.
Yes, teen-agers are resilient and it was a useful quality for the VMS booters. Hours earlier, it was a much different scene.
In a game where neither team deserved to lose, VMS did. When Machebeuf’s Greg Novy blasted his shot past goalie Michael Busenhart to clinch the shootout 4-2, the Gore Rangers sat dazed, while the Buffaloes spilled onto the field to celebrate.
Likely the most down-and-out player in orange was senior Andrew Feldman. He nearly had the golden goal in the final seconds of the second extra frame. Feldman streaked down the right side, beating two Buffaloes, before being stoned by Machebeuf goalie Mark Howard, who would shine in the shootout.
Feldman and the crew had no reason to hang their heads. VMS went 10-3 during the regular season, challenging Basalt for the 3A Slope crown and competed for 90 minutes with a worthy opponent Saturday morning.
“It’s always sad because, more than the loss, it’s that the season ends,” coach Bob Bandoni said. “We have loved being with this group from double-sessions when there were many people who were doubtful about us. The doubt was whether or not our players would unify themselves around an approach and play as one unit.”
They certainly did against Machebeuf. Not surprisingly, it as the combination of Howdy Tuthill and Feldman, which broke the seal on the game. Tuthill broke free on the right side and found Feldman on 10 yards away from the left post.
As has been the case all year, the senior finished the ball into the left corner. With the season over, the cat came come out of the bag on Feldman’s numbers. Feldman finished the season with a staggering 21 goals, which makes him as the second-leading scorer in the state in 3A.
Machebeuf took control of the tempo in the second half, but VMS’s response was, “In Boozy, we trust.” Busenhart had quality save after quality save and his masterpiece came midway through the second half. That’s when Machebeuf’s Josh Pflugler fired a shot seemingly pre-ordained for the top shelf. Busenhart leapt up and fisted the shot over the crossbar.
“Michael Busenhart, he played a great game today,” Bandoni said. “I think because of that great save he brought us to that point in PKs. Once PKs happen, who knows what’s going to happen then.”
As the second half progressed, the seniors, fulfilling their goal of playing in orange jerseys, shined. The Class of 2003 booters would be David Bird, Drew Daly, Feldman, Clay Jewett and A.J. LeGaye.
“There’s not question that the nature of the leadership from our seniors, I think, made a huge difference,” Bandoni said. “What I mean by that is that they did not separate themselves from the rest of the team in terms of perceived status and I think when that happens the younger players then can play with less inhibition. I thought that was clear today.”
Pfluger scored with seven minutes left in regulation sending the game into overtime, followed by the shootout. VMS finishes the season 10-4.
“I would just say, despite the result, we’re as proud of them today as we have been all season,” coach Mike Morris said. “It’s been a great group to work with. Great attitudes, great work ethic and love for the game.”
Chris Freud is a sports writer for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or email@example.com.