Devils bedevil Bears
GYPSUM – Early in the second half Thursday, Eagle Valley soccer’s Nicole Luczkow fought with Rifle’s Caitlin Clay for possession.It was a small battle won by Luczkow. But when you win a lot of small battles, as Eagle Valley did at Gyspum Town Field, some big things can happen. The Devils defeated the visiting Bears, 3-1, and earned their first two-game winning streak since 2004.”The spell has been broken. We’re excited,” said Devils coach Jen Marut, whose team has upped its mark to 2-6 with wins over Delta and Rifle this week. “They are playing so well. It’s really fun to watch.”For those like senior goalie Mary Cochrane, who have been through more than their fair share of lean times in Gypsum, this week has been very gratifying.”It’s awesome to see this group of girls, who’ve never played before, click,” she said. “To see them click the way we have the last two games, it’s real soccer right there.”
Thursday’s game turned on a sequence in the 66th minute. Rifle’s Chelsea Webb halved the Devils’ 2-0 lead after Cochrane had made a brilliant save to stop the Bears’ first shot.Seconds later, Webb came down the left side all alone. Cochrane came out a bit, closing down some of the angle and stoned Webb. After the big stop, Eagle Valley moved it right back down into Rifle’s end with Luczkow feeding Tania Silva. Following one of the most trite truisms in soccer, Silva put it on the frame, and her shot somehow found the back of the net, restoring the Devils’ control of the game.”We needed to come back,” said Silva, who had two goals on the afternoon. “Nicole passed it back and I just shot it. I didn’t think it was going to go in, but it went in.””All that matters is that they get it in,” Marut said. “It doesn’t have to be pretty. They just have to get it across the line. Tania just sealed the deal.”Rifle coach Tom Taucher was definitely replaying the sequence of events after the game.”The turning point was that we had Chelsea Webb on a clean breakaway, and she had time to set it up and shoot, and she hit the keeper with a weak left footer,” he said. “If you go 2-2 there, it’s different. … You finish that, (Eagle Valley’s third goal) never happens. Ifs, ands and buts, you know.”Depending on one’s allegiance, Webb’s breakaway was a blown opportunity or a great save by Cochrane. She and Webb, a junior, have likely seen each other in such situations. The Eagle Valley netminder also has certainly seen her share of breakaways in her four years with the Devils.”I’ve gone to camps and they teach you how to break it down, and make yourself bigger to make the net seem smaller,” Cochrane said. “It’s just a matter of technique and how it all works.”Or as Marut said, “Amazing. She’s just amazing. Thank goodness.”
There were plenty of other heroes for the Devils Thursday. In another sign of the Devils’ improvement in 2007, they scored off a set piece in the 19th minute. Senior Sarah Hoza boomed an excellent serve from a free kick into the box. That through ball found Silva who ripped the twine for a 1-0 lead.In 34th minute, Luczkow put a shot on net which was stopped by Bears keeper Jessica Widmer. But Widmer went down a trifle too early, and Yvette Parra punched it through.”We have been focusing on just going to the ball,” Marut said. “At the beginning of the season, we were focusing on here defense. We’re strong there. Now we’re working on offense. We’ve been switching some positions around and the girls are really starting to play tough.”The girls are starting to play like they love to play. That’s what’s important. If the passion is there, then the rest of it takes care of itself.”By contrast, Rifle (2-4), said Taucher, did not come out well in the first half.”For the first half, Eagle was the better team. They had better jump,” he said. “You spot a team a 2-0 lead on their home field, you’ll have problems. The second half, I thought we had the better of the play, but we only came out 1-1. Any team in our league you’ve got to outplay them. You’ve got to outwork them. Eagle outworked us today.”
Rifle hosts Glenwood Springs Saturday in a renewal of the Bears-Demons rivalry.”Anytime, you play Glenwood in anything, it’s a big game,” Taucher said. “Regardless of the record, it’s fun to play Glenwood.”Eagle Valley was scheduled to host Palisade Saturday, but that contest has been postponed because of the Eagle County School District’s belated spring break. The Devils now host the Bulldogs April 19 and are at Palisade on the 26th.The Devils have next week off before heading to Glenwood April 17, and the key will be carrying over the confidence they have gained in the last two games.”I think winning these two games has really motivated the girls, showing everyone that we can win,” Cochrane said. “I think that over spring break it will make it so they want to get out there and touch the soccer ball and get together and do what they’ve been doing.”
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They came. They skated. They conquered.