Girls soccer: Vail Mountain tarnishes Pearls’ unbeaten record
CARBONDALE — Tess Johnson was disappointed with her first-half performance against the Colorado Rocky Mountain School girls soccer team on Saturday. That said, she couldn’t be happier with the way she finished it.
Johnson, a Vail Mountain School freshman, scored the golden-goal winner with two minutes remaining in the second overtime of the Gore Rangers’ 2-1 victory over the second-ranked Pearls. That goal, in her mind, made up for what she considered a lackluster performance during the first 40 minutes not only by her, but by her team.
“That goal was very redeeming,” Johnson said. “Through the first half and even through the first part of the second half, I didn’t think that I had played up to my potential. That was a big relief to get that in.”
It sure didn’t look like Vail Mountain would ever break through against CRMS goalkeeper Serena Blake, who played a brilliant game in racking up 14 saves in goal while stopping numerous other scoring opportunities for Vail Mountain in the second half. The Gore Rangers, however, didn’t take the lead for the first time until Johnson’s game winner handed the Pearls (3-1-1 overall and 3A/2A Western Slope League play) their first loss of the season.
“I thought they played a great game,” CRMS coach AO Forbes said of the Gore Rangers (5-1-0, 3-0-0). “I thought they were well schooled on anticipating, because they very often were the first to the ball in the second half.”
Freshman Emily Wiley scored the opening goal of the game for CRMS, which has already eclipsed its win total from a year ago. With that — thanks in part to some convincing early victories an a 3-3 tie with Roaring Fork, the Pearls last week were ranked No. 2 in the Colorado High School Activities Association’s Class 2A girls soccer poll. Vail Mountain, by the way, received votes in the poll.
“I think we got up [by a goal] and we relaxed,” Wiley said. “Not a lot of our other games have been like this, so it really wasn’t until the last part of the second half when we really started to step things up again. Something like this will help us to see that we can’t relax when we get up and … we need to keep pushing.”
Wiley’s goal past Vail Mountain goalie Holly Parker halfway through the first half highlighted a span where the Pearls dominated possession. The Gore Rangers turned the tide in the second half, though, tying the score when Johnson scored the first of her two goals off an assist from Grace Merriman.
Blake was a wall for CRMS for the final 30 minutes of regulation, turning away eight shots and even knocking over Merriman on an oncoming rush to the net in the 65th minute. But Vail Mountain finally broke through in the second overtime when Kristen Vossler’s through-ball pass netted a breakaway opportunity for Johnson, who tapped the ball past an onrushing Blake to seal the win.
“I had other chances like that earlier in the game and I blew them,” Johnson said. “That helped me keep my cool when it mattered.”
The Pearls will try to bounce back Tuesday when they play at Grand Valley in Parachute. The Gore Rangers play again Tuesday when they host Roaring Fork.
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