Welcome to crunch time and the crunching is good | VailDaily.com

Welcome to crunch time and the crunching is good

Chris Freud

So the last two days, I have been to two thrilling soccer games — one ended well, the other not so much. I’m heading to a particularly big volleyball game tonight.

Meanwhile, we’ve got three more football games this weekend, regional cross-country, and a whole bunch of other games with postseason implications, and something’s going on in the baseball playoffs, too.

This is kind of fun, you know.

Devils soccer

Eagle Valley soccer beat Battle Mountain nearly two weeks ago. One could have said, well, the law of averages dictates that the Devils will beat the Huskies eventually. But when Devils soccer beats Steamboat Springs as it did on Tuesday, Battle Mountain wasn’t a fluke.

Once can be a fluke. Two is a trend.

Eagle Valley soccer is an uphill fight. Football is the dominant boys’ fall sport, and soccer has often been an afterthought in Gypsum. If you were at Hot Stuff on Tuesday, that changed.

Not only was there a big crowd of boisterous supporters in the stands, but the team itself rose to the occasion. Steamboat scored twice early, and I thought that was that. Past Eagle Valley teams are done, down 2-0.

Not only did the Devils come back to equalize, but they found a way to win. That sounds simple, but it’s not.

Finding a way to win is an elusive element, regardless of sport. Ask coach Kevin Meyer of Battle Mountain football. How about Lindsey Myers of Eagle Valley volleyball?

Those two teams are exactly like Eagle Valley soccer. All three teams have talent, but, through one experience or another, didn’t know how to win, to close a game in the past. (Huskies football for the last two years; Devils volleyball with all four of its losses in five sets.)

Devils soccer found the elusive piece of the puzzle with Noel Ruiz to Nikolaus Opel, but as young master Opel said afterward, it was team effort. Opel also pointed out how young the Devils are.

Eagle Valley honored its seniors tonight, and they’ve helped build this thing. There’s a ton of talent behind them.

If the Devils continue to work, the Summits, the Battle Mountains and the Steamboats better watch out.

Huskies soccer

The sky is falling. The sky is falling.

Please remain calm, everyone.

I always get the question, “What’s the matter with Battle Mountain soccer?” when there’s a “bad” season like this (9-5-1).

The first answer is, “Nothing.” You people (meaning Huskies fans), are just spoiled by the success of this team. The Huskies can’t go 20-0 or 15-3 every year. In fact, there are a lot of teams in the league and around the region that are darn sick and tired of Battle Mountain beating the snot out of everyone. Some of those teams got back at the Huskies this year. It happens.

The deeper answer is that this year’s team has lost its starting goalie, one of its center backs and doesn’t have the prolific or clutch goal-scorer.

Owen Riley was superb in goal on Wednesday against Summit and had been terrific off the bench. The Huskies have a find in Tyler Staughton at center back to join Eli Stephens. David Ortiz, Creek Kamby and Edgardo Rodriguez have all done their part offensively.

But there are only so many hits a team can take and keep performing at the elite level to which Battle Mountain fans are accustomed. We’ve also been spoiled by having that scorer with a killer touch. (Joe LyBarger, Roberto Diaz or Heivan Garcia. The last wasn’t prolific, but he had magic.) It’s not there this year, but I’ll put money on Kamby being that guy the next two years.

And all that said, the Huskies are probably going to the playoffs. Coach David Cope thinks his team is and arguing with him on playoff scenarios seems like a bad idea.

You guys are still dangerous.

And, while we’re here, yes, good luck to Summit. Go Tigers, worthy heirs to Battle Mountain’s reign. Get better soon, Thomas DeBonville.

VMS soccer

If there is justice, then Vail Mountain soccer hosts next weekend in the playoffs at verdant Bandoni Alumni Field. Of course, this is not a just world.

However the 3A Slope’s teams — Roaring Fork, VMS and Coal Ridge — are dispersed in the bracket, the rest of the teams in the state don’t want them. Some years, this league is questionable with its level of play. This is not one of those years.

Case in point — VMS beat Basalt, 3-0, on Tuesday, and the reaction was pretty much, “Ho-hum.”

Beating the snot out of Basalt is a good thing, people. It doesn’t happen that often.

I like the way this team plays. Its defense was underrated before Ryan Schmidt came back. You guys need to finish, finish, finish. This is always the issue, regardless of coach, for VMS soccer. (OK, I’m blaming Bandoni.)

Break out the orange, or as I call it, “My everyday wardrobe.”


The beautiful irony of the wild-card points coming out? Eagle Valley is rooting for Battle Mountain. Politics and high-school sports make for strange bedfellows. The better the Huskies do, the better the Devils’ 35-12 win over their archrivals looks to the points formula.

Eagle Valley, you gotta find two wins somewhere, and one of those has to be Delta or Palisade in the next two weeks. Teams with 6-4 records have made the playoffs, but it’s touch and go. This is a tall order. If I ruled the world, the 3A Slope would get five spots — it’s that good of a conference.

Good win at Steamboat. Wins at Steamboat are always good. I’m still bitter about the second round of the 2005 playoffs. But you guys have to find a way in the next two weeks.

Battle Mountain, forget about the playoffs. I’m not saying don’t aim for them. Win games. Great work in Aspen. That’s a game in which past Huskies teams would have found a way to lose. Going back to the top of the column, you are still in “the learning how to win stage.” By the way, I know you are used to wrecking Homecomings. Don’t wreck this one.

Vail Christian, the league title is there for the taking on Saturday against Pikes Peak Christian. No football team in Saints’ history has gone-back-to-back, and there have been some very good teams that have gone before you. Do I get to vote for Homecoming king and queen?


As I am writing this, our four teams are off to Delta. I will now act as coaches Melinda Parish and Rob Brandt (just making sure you were still reading): “Run fast.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, cfreud@vaildaily.com and @cfreud.

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