In a whiteout, Rams come up just short |

In a whiteout, Rams come up just short

Ian Cropp
Vail Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

EAST VAIL, Colorado ” No more than two minutes into the second half of Thursday’s soccer match, the only remaining green at Bandoni Alumni Field in East Vail had disappeared into a sea of white.

With almost two inches of fresh snow lining the turf, Vail Mountain and Roaring Fork played a combination of soccer and hockey for 10 minutes in the weather-shortened second frame before the final whistle blew, giving the Gore Rangers a 1-0 win.

“That’s the nature of playing in East Vail at 8,000 feet,” said Gore Rangers’ coach Bob Bandoni.

Playing around snow ” the field has ten-foot high walls of snow at the start of nearly every girls’ season ” is nothing new. Playing in snow ” it happens every spring ” is also an old hat in East Vail. But playing in a whiteout on an ad hoc ice rink doesn’t happen too often.

“In the second half I was wondering where everyone was,” said Vail Mountain keeper Elsie Macsata. “I couldn’t see the forwards at all. I only saw their numbers and their heads.”

Roaring Fork coach Brad Zeigel had known there might have been some precipitation, but, “I didn’t expect a whiteout,” he said.

Vail Mountain, which played most of the match with 10 players due to injury, scored in the seventh minute on a Molly Etters penalty kick.

Off a Vail Mountain corner kick, a Roaring Fork defender was whistled for a hand ball in the box. Etters, who clanked a penalty kick off the right post in Monday’s loss to Aspen, found the left corner Thursday for her second goal of the season.

“We were fortunate to get that,” Bandoni said. “Even when we knew we were going into the game with 10 players, it never seemed to have a negative impact on our psychology. It was a matter of rallying around that notion.”

Roaring Fork had several looks at Macsata from the outside, but couldn’t get many clear shots on net.

“We have a real young team and we’ve been trying to get a lot of touches on the ball,” Zeigel said.

Monday, when the Gore Rangers (1-1) were playing their first game of the season, the Rams (0-3) held their first outdoor practice of the season. Roaring Fork (0-3) had two away games before Monday’s practice.

The Rams’ best chance at solving Macsata came in the 30th minute, when Roaring Fork forward Hanna Burleigh deflected a clearing attempt by Vail Mountain and moved in on net. Macsata, the first-year goalie, who has plenty of experience playing defense, deked forward, and Burleigh decided to take a shot. By the time the ball left Burleigh’s foot, Macsata had backpedaled into perfect position to stop the shot. Burleigh had another chance less than a minute later from closer in, but Macsata kicked the ball aside.

Macsata thwarted several other Roaring Fork incursions into the Gore Rangers’ final third by coming off her line early.

“Bandoni tells me to always step up high and help the defense,” she said.

“It makes a huge difference for us,” Bandoni said of Macsata’s aggressive play, “because it allows our backs to play with a little more confidence. I think our outside backs, Mia (Bandoni) and Maggie (Sherman) played really well, stepped up high on the field and contributed to possession and that’s something we’re trying to build.”

Although the players had trouble keeping their footing at times in the second half, nobody seemed afraid to pound the ball with their heads or dive into a pile of wet snow.

“It’s amazing to watch both teams,” Zeigel said. “These girls put it all out there. We could tell them to play in a swamp and they’d play with this intensity and interest. It’s always an adventure and they won’t forget today.”

Vail Mountain hosts Coal Ridge at 4 p.m.

“I think we’re still coming into the season,” Bandoni said. “You can see in the elements, it was tough for us to get (the ball) outside. But that will come with time. What I’m pleased with is that our team doesn’t seem to back off.”

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