Soccer season gets underway with Demon Invitational
Area soccer fans will get their fill of action this weekend, as the high school season kicks off with the Demon Invitational.
Glenwood Springs hosts the two-day tournament at Gates Soccer Complex on the Colorado Mountain College Spring Valley campus, and all eight teams competing will be looking to get the season off on the right foot.
Two local teams – Western Slope League 4A Glenwood, and WSL 3A Roaring Fork – will participate, along with Moffat County, Montrose, Telluride, Eagle Valley, Thunder Ridge and Fort Lupton.
Contests begin today at 4:30 p.m. with Roaring Fork against Moffat County, while Glenwood and Fort Lupton play the final of four games today at 7:30 p.m.
Two other area teams also begin the season this weekend. WSL 4A Rifle travels to the Cheyenne Mountain Tournament in Colorado Springs, while WSL 3A Basalt travels to play Holy Family Saturday.
Glenwood Springs Demons
While Glenwood Springs returns seven players off last year’s squad, fans may not recognize the team on the field with first-year Demons coach Bob Guska taking the reins.
“It’s going to be really exciting this year,” Guska said. “People will see a little different style than what they are used to. Depth will definitely add to the quality of play, and people will see a higher quality of play.”
Guska’s style will feature plenty of offense, and he has players returning who should be able to put up the numbers. Senior Ian Lochhead spearheads the attack at forward and senior Ross Smith adds to the scoring punch from the midfield position. Senior Marcus Bernier and junior Derek Weller also return on the front line, while senior Jason Granato joins Smith in the midfield.
“I think our offense will be our strength, but we still have a solid defense,” Guska said.
And, of course, defense starts with the goaltender.
Buster Bosna returns for his senior season in net and will be joined by returning senior Cisco Tharp on the defensive side.
Rifle head coach Tom Taucher lost 10 seniors off last season’s 6-8-1 team. While the forwards and midfielders still boast plenty of experience, the depth and defense is young.
The Bears’ play will revolve primarily around midfielders Doug Humble, a senior, and David Romero, a junior.
“We’ll sort of get our energy from those two,” Taucher said.
Senior forwards Seth McGruder and Matt Canard will be relied on for scoring and more leadership.
Taucher refers to his unproven defensive players as the “kiddy corps,” a group that was decimated by graduation and, more recently, an injury to sophomore Adam Krick. Sophomore Kyle McElroy and freshman Stuart Stapleton will get significant time on the back line.
“Our goaltending is going to have to be pretty good without Adam back,” Taucher said. “We graduated pretty much everybody. There are a lot of new faces out there and they’re all young.”
Senior Nick Whirley and sophomore Derek Roberts are currently battling for the starting job in net.
In Erik Streff’s first year as head coach of the Basalt Longhorns the team came within a game of playing for the state championship and Streff was named the Western Slope League’s coach of the year.
He may be in the running for the honor again this year. Basalt is picked to be one of the top teams in the WSL 3A.
“We’re staying focused and taking everything game by game,” Streff said. “After getting to the semis last year, it’s not going to be an easy road.”
The Longhorns return three all-conference players in midfielder Ryan Thompson and forwards Spencer Cleveland and Brady Kahn.
One hole that will be difficult to fill for the Longhorns will be the loss of all-conference goalie Ian Cunningham and the senior leadership on defense.
Roaring Fork Rams
The Roaring Fork Rams finished 8-7-1 last season, but advanced to the quarterfinals of the 3A playoffs.
The strong playoff performance almost wasn’t enough to ensure a team at Roaring Fork this season, as the squad was without a coach or the player interest necessary for a season almost a week into the official start of high school soccer practice.
The players did come out, and Mike Baumli was hired as the team’s head coach. And Baumli’s excited and fearless heading into the fresh season.
“What’s there to be nervous about,” Baumli said. “I’m happy as long as the kids are having fun and putting forth their best effort.
“Don’t get me wrong, I do like to win.”
Senior Ben Wright leads the Rams from the sweeper position and is also the team captain. Fellow senior Jon Holton will be in net this year as Baumli builds the team from back to front in terms of experience.
Senior Trevor Wagner will play stopper and be responsible for marking up on the opposing team’s top scoring threat. He will also be key in Baumli’s transition-style offense.
Offensively, senior Bryant Maggert will start the attack from a midfielder position and Baumli has been impressed with the play of striker Jason Ibanez, a newcomer to the team.
Colorado Rocky Mountain School
Colorado Rocky Mountain School is in the process of rebuilding its soccer program, and, in his second year as head coach of the program, Tom Lilledal figures it’s right on track.
Last season CRMS had one of the better years the program has seen in some time, sitting in playoff position with just a few games remaining before being pushed out. Lilledal hopes this is the season the team gets over the hump and into the playoffs.
“It’s been a really long drought,” he said of the lack of appearances in the playoffs, “and that’s something we’re really going to try to change this season. The players know what is expected of them in terms of the system, the discipline and the effort.”
Lilledal likens the team’s system to the soccer version of basketball’s full-court press – getting on the ball quickly and forcing mistakes.
Josh Paigen, who earned honorable mention all-conference accolades last season as a defensive midfielder, will be a key player in the system.
“Josh is the kind of guy most players hate to play against,” Lilledal said. “If you play against Josh, you’re going to be touched.”
Other players to keep an eye on include midfielders Jack Tolan and Josh Tagan, but Lilledal is quick to point out that it will need to be a complete effort for success.
“Our strength is really the sum of our team effort,” he said. “No one player is going to carry the team.”
CRMS opens its season at home Sept. 7 against Paonia.
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