Homecoming Week Soccer Match Draws a Crowd

Mo Heiniger, Reporter

The Manitou Springs High School boys’ soccer teams played against Vanguard at home on Thursday, Sept. 29th. The junior varsity team’s game took place first and started at 4:00pm that evening. In the first half, equal efforts on behalf of both teams were made. Both teams were taking shots that were skimming past the goal. Right before halftime, a Vanguard forward slipped one in past JV goalkeeper Jackson Sawyer (10). As this was Sawyer’s second game goaltending, it is important to note that the mistakes he made that led to this goal were adjusted as the game continued according.

Going into the second half, the team realized problems in their attack and discussed what needed to change in their tactics in order for a comeback to occur. As a team, the Mustangs increased their offensive efforts in order to hopefully have them reflect on the scoreboard. Strikers playing for Vanguard had shots on goal throughout the game that were blocked by Sawyer as well as the team’s defenders. In the end, Vanguard sunk in one more goal and that would be the last major play of the game.

When asked for feelings on the varsity soccer match prior to it, team captain Nicholas Vidovich (11) said, “I’m not really concerned, honestly. I mean, the team is holding together well. We’ve talked over what we need to do and I think we really have a good strategy and we know who their key players are. I think we’re going to do a good job of shutting them down and making sure that we come out of this with a win.” Another team captain, Jonathan Gerdes (11), was interviewed before the game and he said, “We talked about how this is probably the most important game of the season because, if we lose, it’s going to make it a lot harder for us to get into playoffs and, if we win, it will make it a lot easier. We are definitely looking to win this one and we definitely think we have a chance.” Both Gerdes and Vidovich alluded to team conversations discussing key players in the Vanguard offense as well as a stress on this game in particular as it is a league game that will determine their ranking in the conference. With these thoughts in mind, the Mustangs took the field.

As the game started, a noticeably larger student crowd was filling the stands. This game, as it is directly prior to the annual community Homecoming bonfire, tends to bring in more of a crowd than other regular season home games. The first whistle blew and the contest began. The Vanguard Coursers had some key offensive players that the Manitou Mustangs had to shut down in order to keep zeros on the scoreboard going into the half. As in the JV game, similar offensive efforts were being made by both teams. Shots off the feet of Ted Weiss (12) and the aforementioned captain Jon Gerdes were getting closer and closer to goal only for the Vanguard defense and their goal keeper to get to them just in time. Going into halftime, Weiss had five shots on goal and Gerdes had one. Defensively, Manitou stopped all five of Vanguard’s first half shots. They were either blocked by defenders Nick Vidovich, Ben White (11), and Asher Schoepflin (9), or stopped by starting goal keeper Zachary Talbot (9).  By the end of the half, the Mustangs had five saves, six shots, and the score was still 0-0.

Strategies of both teams needed to change in order to have a winner in this contest. For the first part of the second half, things continued in the same manner as no goals were score for either team despite the efforts made. Talbot continued to block shots made by the Courser offense and Mustangs forwards continued taking shots. It wasn’t until the end of the game where things started to pick up. In the last seven minutes of this contest, the people in the crowd were brought to their feet. Weiss carried the ball up the field, scored a goal, and celebrated the game’s first point by dabbing with Alliah Halcomb (11). It wasn’t long before the momentum from this goal produced another one. With about three minutes left of playing time, Se’amus Lowe (9) passed a ball in between two Vanguard defenders directly to Jon Gerdes’ feet. Then, Gerdes carried the ball toward the goal and slipped it in past the Vanguard goal keeper right before he was knocked to the ground. This point would be the very last major event of the game.

In the end, the Mustangs won the game 2-0. The level of play really increased in the last half of the game. After this win, coaches Ben Mack and Kevin Dlugos discussed how important this game was to their post-season and how the team used that information to come out on top. Another varsity captain, Ted Weiss, commemorated the game with a rap that recapped the entire season and reminded the team to make good choices. On the game overall, Weiss said, “Now, we are on a two game win streak. [The game] is really important to us. I felt like everyone stepped up. Physicality was the key to this game… We were putting chances in and [the goal] finally came.” On the subject of his individual play, the freshman goal keeper Zack Talbot said, “I really liked how the defense helped. I just had that one save but, otherwise, I give it all to the defense. They played great.” Both Weiss and Talbot discussed the importance of this game as a morale booster after a streak of three losses at the beginning of the season. Talbot closed his interview by saying, “If we are ever in a tough game, we can always think back to this moment and know how much passion we have to play with.”