Warren pushes VMS past Eagle Valley
Last year, the Eagle Valley girls soccer team got used to pushing around the Vail Mountain School, thumping the Gore Rangers, 6-0, and 4-1, in the schools’ two regular season meetings.
Tuesday, on a blustery afternoon at the Eagle County Fairgrounds, the Gore Rangers pushed back. Hard.
VMS striker Z Warren made the most of two runs on the Eagle Valley goal, netting two shots in the second half over the outstretched hands of Devils goalie Mary Cochrane to provide the only scoring in what was a hard-fought contest between two evenly matched teams.
“It’s feels great beating Eagle Valley,” Warren said after the game. “Last year, they beat us like twice, once by six goals. So, beating them this year is good.”
Both teams were playing without the services of star players. Courtney Robinson, VMS’ starting center midfielder broke both of her legs last Friday in a skiing accident and is lost for the season. The Devils were without senior captain Sam Phillips, who was pacing the sidelines in street clothes Tuesday, resting up to get back to full strength.
“Sam’s just taking a rest, but it had absolutely no bearing on the game,” Devils coach Daiva Katieb said. “We did a good job of controlling the ball, but we just didn’t do a good job when it came to the scoreboard. We did have quite a few shots on goal and some were just unlucky that they didn’t go in. But, a lot of our shots just weren’t good clean shots because their defense did such a good job.”
Warren’s first goal came 10 minutes into the second half after Kristen Caples placed a nice pass in front of her as she streaked down the right side of the field. With Cochrane anticipating a shot to the right side of the net, Warren rocketed a crossing shot from 20 yards out in the other direction that found its way into the top-left corner of the net.
“Basically it was just Kris, the new freshmen on our team, passing it up,” Warren said. “We spent this past week working on shooting also. We had at least 11 shots at CMRS this weekend, and we missed everyone except for two. So, that probably helped out a little bit.”
Warren’s second goal came on a similar play in the 75th minute, only from straight on, as she laced another rising shot over the head of Cochrane.
Aside from Warren’s two blasts on goal, the Devils played stellar defense in what was a very physical game.
Both teams scrapped for loose balls the whole game, with players from both squads taking turns getting acquainted with the turf after being on the receiving end of a shoulder push or an elbow nudge.
The best tumble of the afternoon came after Warren’s first goal in the second half, when VMS’ Lani Bruntz and Eagle Valley’s Kirsten DeGroat were running in stride together towards the Devils goal, with Bruntz on the offensive.
As Bruntz went to kick the ball forward, DeGroat stuck her foot in front of the ball causing a collision that sent Bruntz somersaulting. Bruntz first landed on her head and then her feet, while DeGroat sent the ball back the other way.
“It was good to see that the refs let the kids play, within the rules, of course.” VMS co-coach Jamie Farquhar said. “It was a real physical game.”
“I thought the officiating really did allow for the game to just flow,” added coach Bob Bandoni. “It’s not always characteristic of high school soccer. The officials really knew the game. They were really neutral. You know they’re doing a good job when you can’t tell they’re out there.”
With the loss of Robinson, VMS made lineup adjustments, switching Mallory Kaufman to midfielder to round out a three midfielder set, instead of playing the traditional two.
Farquhar and Bandoni also relied on goalie Cely Brinkmann to charge on balls instead of hanging back in goal – a move that paid off big with Brinkmann befuddling the Devils all afternoon.
Brinkmann came out of the box twice in the first half to clear out loose balls, as well as pouncing on two balls in the box before Devils’ striker Tanaee Mickley could get to them.
The Devils put 22 shots on goal, including a penalty kick from sophomore striker Mickley after she was pushed in the box, but each time Brinkmann came up with the ball.
“I just think it makes us want to beat them harder,” said an upset Mickley after the game. “We just want to win next time for sure, because as a team we shouldn’t have lost. It’s not the defense’s fault. It’s the whole team’s fault.”
With the win, VMS improved to 2-2 in the 3A Slope, 2-3 overall.
The Devils fell to 3-2-1 overall and 2-2 in Slope play.
Nate Peterson can be reached a 949-0555, ext. 608 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org