VMS orange returns to state
EAST VAIL – The Vail Mountain School soccer team may have been wearing orange for its state-seeding game Friday against Bayfield, but the Gore Rangers, as VMS junior Patrick Scanlan aptly said in the second half, were “Purple People Eaters.”
The purple-clad Wolverines were no match for VMS, as the Gore Rangers pounded Bayfield, 7-0, at The Bob to advance to the state playoffs for the first time since 2000.
“It was awesome. I wasn’t on the team my freshman year (which went to state),” senior co-captain Duncan Robinson said. “It’s really neat to go into the next round. Everyone’s really worked hard on this team. We’ve had an awesome year. We’ve had lots of fun. It’s good to keep going with it.”
It was VMS’ day from the start – quite literally. Early in the morning, Robinson and fellow senior, Howdy Tuthill, climbed to the top of the roof of the Peter Abuisi Center and planted a bright orange flag. And more orange followed in all forms – Virginia Cavaliers orange, Polo orange, Broncos orange, C-DOT orange and hunting orange.
Heck, even VMS athletic director Jamie Farquhar was in orange rooting against a team in purple, quite the sacrilegious act by a Minnesota Vikings fan.
The only group not not completely clad in orange was the lower school. But the tykes, led by teacher Jeanne Macsata, more than made up for it by by rewriting the school’s fight song – now “Fight, fight, fight for the ORANGE and white – and singing it over and over. Even the second-graders were singing, “We will, we will, rock you.”
And VMS did, indeed, rock the Wolverines. Junior Sylvan Ellefson started the rout early.
“I believe it was a direct kick from Duncan, and I just got the edge off on the person in front of me,” Ellefson said.” The goalie didn’t come. So, it was basically an easy goal.”
Most things were easy for VMS Friday. A few minutes later, Robinson drilled a penalty kick into the net for a 2-0 lead.
At the half, VMS coach Bob Bandoni asked his boys to raise their level of play and the Gore Rangers responded. Scanlan’s nifty feed sprang Ellefson down the left side and he ripped his shot into the right corner.
Sebastian Faessler started VMS’ next score. He passed to Ellefson, who slipped it to Tuthill. The hockey player knew what to do from there – Tuthill went 5-hole, with Battle Mountain hockey coach Jade Kersey actually in attendance.
And, with the score at 4-0, the young guys came off the bench.
“While it’s good for them, we don’t put them in for patronizing reasons,” Bandoni said. “We really want them in, and we’re hoping that we can play a certain style. And, I thought they did that during the second half.”
No problem, Bob, Tyler Kjesbo fed John Spriggs for a beautiful header, a nice way to score one’s first goal.
“I’ve been wanting one all season,” Spriggs said. “The only way I figured I’d get one is using my height, getting a header. It was amazing. It felt so great.”
Casey Kleisinger, who’s had a fantastic rookie season, assisted Zach Lucido, who grounded one in from left side for a 6-0 lead. Coulter Somes, courtesy of Blake Higgins, ended the day’s scoring for the orange.
For their efforts, the young guys got props from the team’s veterans.
“It’s great watching Casey and Coulter play in this game and Spriggs is a newcomer,” Ellefson said. “It’s great watching them play and score goals.”
Next up is the round of 16 for VMS. At 6-8-1, the Gore Rangers are definitely on the road and will likely be seeded between 13 and 16. But, VMS knows what lies ahead.
“(Bayfield) wasn’t as strong as the other teams we’ll be facing in the future,” Spriggs said. “So, we’re going to have to do a lot of practice this week and get our game back up to what it needs to be.”
“We think we need to play laterally more in the middle of the field because we think that will get our numbers up in the middle of our attack,” Bandoni said. “We think that’s going be critical, especially as we now go into the round of 16. There are going to be some very strong teams. They’re going to be very stubborn in the back and we have to attack.”
Just for kicks: Bandoni took a lot of good-natured ribbing from assorted fans about his Red Sox, going down to the Yankees. Wait’ll next year, Bandon. … Speaking of Sox fans, Dave Schindel kept the faith watching the game from the sidelines, wearing a Red Sox hat. … Also, in attendance were several members of the Battle Mountain soccer team, which plays Canon City today at 2:30 p.m., in Eagle-Vail, in state-seeding action. Note to the VMS soccer team, return the favor today. … Speaking of fans, kudos to the VMS crowd. Bayfield must have thought the National Rifle Association was in town – there was that much orange. “They were great, listening to all of them, getting us pumped up,” Ellefson said. “It was a huge lift, knowing we had all these kids and adults were supporting us.”
Chris Freud is the sports editor of the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or via email@example.com.