VMS, Team Synergy, optimistic in ’04
VAIL – One moment in Thursday’s practice, Vail Mountain School soccer coach Bob Bandoni was yelling, “Beautiful. Beautiful.” The next, he was muttering in Italian, a pretty sure sign that things weren’t going right.Yes, these are the traditional vagaries of VMS soccer as the Gore Rangers attempt to wear orange – i.e. make the postseason – for the fifth consecutive year.VMS is extremely experienced in net, in back and in the midfield. Striker is likely the question mark. But Bandoni, who is likely one of the best coaches this side of the divide along with Battle Mountain’s David Cope and Steamboat Springs’ Rob Bohlmann, likely has a fix for that.Tweaking “The System”Much has been written about VMS’ vaunted “System.” The goalie plays it out to the midfielders. It goes back to the fullbacks and then out wide to the forwards. But expect a little bit of a different look in 2004.”There’s a lot of (the system) in terms of style,” Bandoni said. “But, there’s a lot of rotating going on. There has to be a lot of communication and that’s demanding of players. I think it’s going to take us a long time to develop it and it’s still in question. I don’t know if it’s going to be beyond us or not. Right now, in small-sided play in training, we’ve seen some success.”
VMS has between 30-35 players out, a huge number for the 1A school. While large numbers can sometimes impede productive training sessions, the Gore Rangers are getting along well with Bandoni and company, including team manager, Courtney Robinson, who’s been invaluable.Of course, the goal during camp is to gain a certain quality. If you’ve played “VMS Soccer: The Home Game,” you know what it is.”You really have to use synergy,” said Bandoni, making the season official. “We have to have that in order for this system to work. People not only have to know each other’s style, but they have to appreciate each other, and almost there has to be a degree of unity in the style and system that we’re playing. It’s very different from years past.”The captainsSo, Sylvan Ellefson and Patrick Scanlan, what’s it like to be co-captains?”It’s awesome now,” Ellefson said.
“Don’t you have anything better to say than that,” replied Scanlan, who is the team’s official wisecrack.In all seriousness, these two veterans will be key to the Gore Rangers’ success this season. Ellefson will be a steady presence in back, while Scanlan will run the midfield.”We take it with as much pride as we can, knowing that we were elected to lead this team,” Ellefson said. “So, we have to step it up now.”Ellefson needs to steer clear of injuries in 2004, while Scanlan has to be a calming presence in the middle. And, what’s perfectly clear is that these two are thrilled to be their team’s representatives.”It’s just strange to see that we’ve come through the program so fast,” Scanlan said. “I can remember being a freshman and playing with Budge (Andrew McConathy) and all of them. It doesn’t feel like we’re the old guys on the team.”The team
Well, yes, you are, Patrick, and you have some company. Your fellow seniors are Michael Busenhart (he’s in one piece, folks), Ellefson, Brian Wood, Sebastian Faessler, Zach Lucido, Tyler Kjesbo and Taylor Sheldon. The juniors are John Spriggs, Max Avery, Joel Migchelbrink, Steffan Brenner, Bobby LeGaye, Drew Riley and James Thorne. Also expect to see a lot of Casey Kleisinger, Coulter Somes, Oscar Gaspar among others.VMS scrimmages Battle Mountain in one week at 5 p.m. in Eagle-Vail, and it will be an interesting test for the Gore Rangers.”It will be interesting to see how it works against a team with a little more speed other than our younger kids on a counterattack, to see if we can get those defenders up, how that adapts,” Verbeten said.To that end, VMS has put together a demanding nonconference schedule. VMS open Sept. 4 at St. Mary’s as part of a home-and-home with the Wildcats. The Gore Rangers are also at Salida, at Summit and are trying to schedule 4A Steamboat for their 15th game.The 3A Slope
Three teams go to the postseason from the six-team 3A Slope. While Bandoni would rather don Yankee pinstripes than talk about wins and losses, VMS very much should be in the mix.Eagle Valley has moved up to 4A, which will help VMS immensely. Basalt, the defending league champion, is the favorite until anyone else proves otherwise. As a sidenote, VMS hosts Basalt Sept. 25 and visits the Longhorns Oct. 14.”We always assume and we’re happy about it that Basalt is going to be a very strong side,” Bandoni said. “I am also pleased with our nonleague schedule because everyone of our opponents is going to be strong. For us to evolve as a team, we need to face the best competition we can. The better and faster our opponent is going to be, the sharper we’re going to have to be.”It would be wise to be sharp against the likes Aspen and Roaring Fork, along with whom Basalt and VMS will likely be battling for postseason bids. The Colorado Rocky Mountain School and Paonia figure to bring up the rear of the Slope.However it turns out though, the VMS faithful hopefully will not be hearing Bandoni mumbling much in Italian.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.