VMS knocks Eagle Valley from undefeated ranks
VMS knocks Eagle Valley from undefeated ranks
And that leaves the Gore Rangers
Is anyone going to go undefeated in 4A Western Conference play this year?
We only ask because it was the subject of conversation after Vail Mountain defeated Eagle Valley, 13-8, at venerable Bandoni Alumni Field on Wednesday.
“Absolutely not,” Devils coach Nick Carter said. “I don’t see any squad in the conference going undefeated. We have a great team. We came out flat. We came out not ready to play.”
“It’s way too early to say if someone is going undefeated,” said VMS coach Anders Fogel. “We’re just really excited to be playing today and playing Aspen on Friday.”
It shouldn’t surprise anyone from those two quotes that Eagle Valley fell from the ranks of the undefeated with its loss to VMS and that the Gore Rangers are the only remaining undefeated team in the West. Fogel may be a rookie head coach, but that was an experienced dodge of the question.
History tells us that undefeated in the Western is possible: Battle Mountain did so in 2018 and Steamboat Springs in 2019, the last year of high school lacrosse.
But those leagues weren’t as deep as the new configuration of the conference with both Steamboat and Aspen, not to mention that 2021 seems to be a fun year locally with all three squads in contention. The easy two wins in the conference against Glenwood Springs are no longer there.
It is hard to see anyone going 10-0 in 2021.We never rule anything out, but the only time VMS won the West was in 2017, and the Gore Rangers still lost to Steamboat with a 9-1 mark.
Bottom line: Good win for Vail Mountain School, who sits atop the lofty, but tenuous perch of the West, while Eagle Valley is not close eliminated with the loss. The two teams meet again in Gypsum on May 20.
On Wednesday, VMS was just too quick for Eagle Valley. The three-headed monster that is Mason Geller, Becker Dienst and Mackay Pattison had seven of 13 goals, including hat tricks from Pattison and Dienst.
“We were going to use our stick skills and our speed to draw slides, just give and feed it, or use our size,” Pattison said, making it sound so simple.
It isn’t. Given the experience of this unit playing together, they have so many options in an attack formation that there isn’t a tendency, a bread-and-butter play that can be stopped to minimize the damage.
Eagle Valley got frustrated on Wednesday with the officiating, not exactly a novel concept in the sport. When out of position, the Devils hacked.
Aside from being out of position — admittedly the prime problem — it just seems that stick fouls are point of emphasis this season for the officials. For the first week of so of the season, it seems that any one-handed swing — leagal or not — is going to be called, so use two hands or don’t swing.
“Coming back to the fundamentals, it’s keeping the ball not on the ground where those calls can be made,” Carter said.
The translation of that is: Hold onto the darn ball guys. If you have the ball, you aren’t swinging to get the ball and the refs can’t call penalties.
Interpreting officiating is also a concern for VMS as well. Having already beaten Steamboat and Eagle Valley, the Gore Rangers are going to see more physical play. The quickest way to slow down speedy and skilled attack is to beat the heck out of it as much as the opposition can within the rules.
VMS is going to see more of this and has to stay disciplined. Along those lines, Pattison was right on point.
“We have to embrace it,” the senior said. “We like it. We have to put in other players. We have to get them involved when they come at us. We do have good middies.who can handle this.”
Lost in the stick wizardry is that VMS has a darn good goalie in Matthew Gay. Was he the deciding factor in a 5-goal win? Of course not.
But the senior just continues to flash skills that give the Gore Rangers the confidence that he’ll be there in the crunch.
“Matt is definitely the goalie who is going to take us somewhere special,” Fogel said. “Matt is awesome player and a learner and we’re really excited that he made some big saves early and that helped us out in this game.”
The road ahead
In Class 4A, there are 12 playoff spots. Six of those spots will go to the half dozen conference champions, leaving six wild cards. As with other sports in COVID-19, the wild-card rankings will be determined by rating-percentage index, maxpreps.com rankings and the CHSAA Coaches’ Poll.
Winning the conference to make the postseason is obviously very effective, but one loss shouldn’t eliminate anyone with six wild cards.
VMS turns around and faces Aspen on Friday at the friendly confines. Every game is huge at this point. Meanwhile, Eagle Valley is off until Tuesday when it is at Steamboat.