Cardinals can’t weather Saints’ offensive outburst
EDWARDS, Colorado ” Vail Christian girls soccer has struggled all season in the offensive third.
That ended Friday afternoon against Grand Valley as the Saints’ offense broke out of its shell with a 4-0 victory over the Cardinals at Freedom Park in Edwards.
“It was lovely, and they were good goals. That’s what was neat, too,” Saints coach Barbara Wilson said. “We didn’t get some lucky goals. Those were beautiful, good teamwork, good assists, and a lot of other good shots.”
Given that the Saints had been on the wrong end of five shutouts this season and had a total of five goals this season entering Friday, this was exactly what the doctor ordered.
“It was really good. It was a great game. I feel like everything just came together,” said newly-minted center-midfielder Sammy Francis, who had two goals and an assist. “The last couple of weeks, we’ve been scrambling. It just came together.”
Ironically, one of the major keys to Friday’s victory came out of the last meeting between the two teams on April 9. In the 1-1 draw in Parachute, Wilson moved Francis forward from center back to the midfield to generate some offense late in that contest.
While the move didn’t bear fruit a week ago, Francis did produce scoring chances, and the Saints made the switch Friday.
“We saw how she played on the ball. She looked for people,” Wilson said. “She’s great in the middle as far as creating. We decided, ‘Let’s go ahead and try it.’ We felt good about the girls on defense. Obviously, we’ll keep that.”
It was Elizabeth Shearon who got Saints going in the first half. Just moments after she had clanked a shot off the left side of the crossbar, she came right back and fired a beautiful laser into the left panel for a 1-0 lead.
Another reason Wilson liked the idea of Francis in the midfield was that she and junior Brooke Bowles have a good rapport. That manifested itself minutes later when Francis fed Bowles with a slick pass. Bowles beat Cardinals goalie Stephanie Hilgenbrinck to the right side.
The Saints’ chances continued in the second half. Hilgenbrinck absolutely robbed Allison Vossler on one opportunity with a fantastic save. And then came the moment for which Francis has been waiting all season.
The senior has wanted a goal all year, and the absence of said goal has been the source of some good-natured ribbing from her younger sister, Dakota, who is the squad’s goalie.
Vossler sprang Francis into the Cardinals end and Sammy was all alone with Hilgenbrinck.
“I always think, ‘Don’t miss,’ because then I’ll hear it from Dakota on the way home,” Sammy joked.
Francis’ shot was true for a 3-0 lead, and since her first tally was so much fun, she scored again in similar fashion to round out the day.
Grand Valley (1-11-1) is off until the Cardinals host Rangely Thursday at 6 p.m.
“You can take something away from every game,” Grand Valley coach Kelly Clark said. “The biggest thing they’ve learned is that they need to mark up more. They did an excellent job of it. They stuck with it. They never gave up.”
Meanwhile, the Saints (2-6-1) host, weather permitting, Roaring Fork today at 1:30 p.m. in Edwards in a make-up of Thursday’s snowed-out game.
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