Second-half comeback lifts Vail over Aspen
EAST VAIL — It’s not going to come easily for Vail Mountain School soccer.
Whether it’s preseason plaudits or longtime rivals coming with their best, the Gore Rangers know it’s going to be a battle all season. VMS overcame a 2-1 second-half deficit and brilliant goaltending from Aspen’s Jake Bassi for a 4-2 nonconference win over the Skiers on Thursday afternoon at Bandoni Alumni Field.
“The target on our back has grown and grown, especially after last year,” VMS junior defender Max Bervy said. “So I think teams are going to be coming for us this year.”
Aspen certainly did before a three-goal barrage in the second half lifted the Gore Rangers to their first win of the season.
Man of the Match?
The best player on the pitch might well have been on the losing team Thursday. Bassi was stupendous for the visiting Skiers. The junior kept his team in the game early when Vail Mountain owned possession.
“Jake’s a great shot stopper, and you saw that today,” Skiers coach Dave Francis said. “He made a number of great saves. The defense have a lot of faith in him. Jake was tremendous.”
VMS coach Pete Petrovski seconded that.
“They weren’t just good — they were great saves,” he said.
The Gore Rangers (1-1) solved Bassi only once in the first half when Peter Ferraro fed Eric Zdechlik for a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute.
Aspen responded with a penalty kick by Edgar Ortiz for the equalizer in the 31st, and went ahead in the second half on a Guillermo Flores shot that was lofted over VMS goalie Colin Rouaud.
“You just have to trust the team and know that we’re going to come back,” VMS’ Liam Hurley said of being down 2-1. “We’ve been practicing hard and know we have it in us.”
VMS rallied quickly with Alex Trevino and Ferraro playing a little give-and-go. The latter got his first goal of the year to tie it at two.
Minutes later, Kevin Garcia fed Hurley for a one-timer and the Gore Rangers were on their way. Nathan Rouaud added some insurance with a rocket from well outside the box.
While all this was happening, Gore Rangers center-back Robby Gruber went down with an injury. That moved Bridger Gile to center and Max Timm did a nice job coming off the bench to play outside.
Both VMS and Aspen have beefed up their slates with the implementation of the rating-percentage index as the primary method of qualifying for the postseason.
Though the Skiers are 0-2 — both of those losses coming at the hands of 3A playoff teams last year — Francis felt his team upped its performance from a 4-0 loss to Jefferson Academy on Tuesday.
“We were a different team today,” he said. “There was some fire in there, determination. Today was a much better game than Tuesday’s game. Of course, Vail are a better opposition and that brings out the best in us. I was pretty happy the way we went about our game today.”
As a reminder, Aspen and VMS play twice, so Thursday’s game was a nonleague tilt. The two squads meet again Sept. 24 in Pitkin County for the Slope match.
Aspen hosts Lutheran on Saturday at 11 a.m., while VMS has some time off before Arupe Jesuit comes to The Bob on Sept. 10.
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