VMS soccer shakes jitters and Coursers
EAST VAIL — All is weller at the Vail Mountain School.
And we’re not talking about Sean who plays golf for the Gore Rangers.
Early in the second half of Friday afternoon’s first-round state-playoff game between VMS and Vanguard Charter at Bandoni Alumni Field, a fan watching was asked how she was doing.
“Well, but I’d be weller if we got some more goals,” she joked.
The Gore Rangers obliged with two in the final 40 as VMS knocked off the Coursers, 2-0, to advance to today’s second rounder at 2 p.m., also at The Bob, against Jefferson Academy, 2-0 winners over Telluride in the playoff nightcap on Friday.
The key to Friday’s game for the Gore Rangers (12-3-1) was simply taking a deep breath. With an early dismissal for the school and big crowd clad in orange T-shirts, VMS was simply too amped.
“Passes were coming at guys 100 mph when they should have been going 40,” VMS coach Pete Petrovski said.
“It’s amazing,” senior defender Tommy Miller said of the crowd. “Everyone came out to watch us play. It’s a privilege to play out there honestly.”
While the visiting Coursers had some chances, VMS wasn’t in danger of dropping this one. It’s one of the benefits of being a No. 5 seed — you get No. 28 in the first round.
During the intermission, the Gore Rangers got the settle-down speech from Petrovski.
“At half, coach Pete said we just needed to take a breath and calm down a little bit,” sophomore Liam Hurley said.
And off they go
In addition to crushing shots over the bar and sending passes too quickly, VMS wasn’t using its wide field in the first half. That changed after the break.
On a throw-in, Trevor Shelden got the ball and sent it down to Kevin Garcia on the end line. Garcia blew it into the right panel and VMS was on the board.
A nice little note on this score was Clay Kirwood making an overlapping run, taking his defender with him to free up Shelden and Garcia.
Kirwood, who leads the Gore Rangers with 24 goals this season, had plenty of chances and couldn’t convert against the Coursers. It’s not a crisis. Does he score in what VMS hopes is a long playoff run? Who knows? What is likely is that Kirwood will be a marked man because of his stats, so contributing when he’s not on the score sheet bodes well.
The second tally, which made everyone feel better, came via a gorgeous diagonal pass from Liam Hurley to Peter Ferraro, the sophomore connection.
“It was my favorite play of the year so far,” Hurley said.
And that’s saying something from a kid who has two golden goals this season (Aspen and Colorado Academy).
Back in orange
After the game, most of the VMS players switched out of their white jerseys and back into their orange to watch Jefferson Academy blank Telluride. For Shelden, who’s the youngest of four brothers (Taylor, Tucker and Tanner) to play for the Gore Rangers, these are exciting times.
“It’s really important to me,” Trevor said. “It’s truly inspiring to wear the orange on a day like this with everyone and my teammates to show some school pride.”
The general consensus from the VMS camp was that all were glad to have this one under their collective belt with all the nerves out of the way.
“I think everybody was pretty nervous to start,” Miller said. “I think once we got over the nerves in the first half, we started to settle the ball and play to feet and play our game in the second half.”
Jefferson Academy (12-4) finished fifth in Region 6. That said, it’s a powerhouse region with Kent Denver, Colorado Academy, Faith Christian and Peak to Peak. The Jaguars and the Gore Rangers both finished their respective seasons with Colorado Academy. Jefferson Academy fell, 2-0, while VMS won in overtime, 2-1.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.