Soccer: Basalt boys tie Vail Mountain, head to state playoffs

Chris Freud
Vail Daily
Vail Mountain School junior, Pablo Aziz, takes a shot on goal during the first half of a league title game against Basalt in Vail on Tuesday. Although the game ended in a double overtime tie, the Gore Rangers' record will reward them the 3A league title.
Townsend Bessent | |

VAIL — Vail Mountain School and Basalt played to a 1-1 draw and everyone left East Vail happy on Tuesday.

Kind of rare for a draw, but it gave the Gore Rangers gents their first league title since 1990, while the Longhorns are also postseason bound after an 0-5 start to the season.

“It’s a league title and these kids have worked so hard,” VMS coach Pete Petrovski said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

The tie secured Vail Mountain its first league crown since the days of the old Northwestern League in 1990 and the school’s second in a calendar year after the girls also won the conference last spring.

Meanwhile, the Longhorns were happy to take second in the league after a 6-10 campaign a year ago.

“I think they should be proud of what they did,” Basalt coach Brent Hayes said. “We had a terrible start to the season. It was not what we hoped, but I always had faith that they could play like this. To come out and play like this against a team that hasn’t lost since their first game of the year, to climb from 0-5, they have every right to be proud.”

Kevin Garcia struck early with a rocket of free kick in the sixth minute. In the 66th, Basalt’s Caleb Rewinkle completed a fantastic pass to Matt Anderson for the equalizer.

Both teams had chances in extra time.

“I think that was a worthy game for league-championship game,” Hayes said.

Basalt finishes at 8-5-2 overall and 6-0-2 in the Slope, and, after that 0-5 start, is unbeaten in its last 10 contests. (The draws were Vail Mountain and Coal Ridge, both squads headed to the postseason.)

Meanwhile, the Gore Rangers (13-1-1, 7-0-1) should be at home, at least for the first two rounds of the playoffs.

VMS is ranked No. 2 in the state in the CHSAA poll, which is non-binding for postseason selection, and fourth in the rankings, which do go into the seeding process.

The top-eight teams in the state host the first two rounds of the playoffs Oct. 30-31, so that seems a safe bet for the Gore Rangers. (VMS hosted last year with an 11-3-1 regular season after finishing second in the league.)

The big question is whether the Gore Rangers can crack the top four, and be home, provided they advance, for the quarterfinals.

Regardless of seed, it’s time for VMS to crack out the orange, which this team has been thinking about since being eliminated by Denver Christian in the quarterfinals last year.

“I was looking up at those guys and now my younger brother is looking up at me,” said Cunningham, who has attended VMS since he was in the first grade and knows the tradition of the postseason.

Young master Declan Cunningham, a second-grader, now gets to do the same.

Tuesday was also Senior Day for VMS. John Linn, Jon Thomas Singleton, Hoanen Chen, J.P. Elmblad, Nick Whiteford, Dylan Cunningham, and Kevin Hernandez all took their bows.

VMS and Basalt will be on on Sunday, madly pressing the refresh button to find out their postseason draw.