The Heritage-Mountain Vista soccer game again proves statistics go out the window when teams take the field
Based on won-loss records, Mountain Vista appeared to be heavily favored, with a 9-1 season record and 6-0 in league, while Heritage was 1-7-2 overall and 1-3-2 in league.
But the game turned out to be a hard-fought battle from the opening kickoff. In the end, Mountain Vista preserved its undefeated league record with a 3-0 win.
Games take on added importance as both teams head down the home stretch of the regular season.
Heritage was scheduled to play Highlands Ranch on April 23 and then face ThunderRidge on April 25. The final regular season game is April 30 at 7 p.m. against Legend at Littleton Stadium.
At the same time, Mountain Vista was to play Castle View April 25 and to play Littleton on April 29. The team wraps up the regular season April 30 with a 4:30 p.m. game against Highlands Ranch at Shea Stadium.
Mountain Vista is in position to win the Continental League title for the fourth year in a row, which earns them an automatic berth in the 32-team Class 5A playoffs.
“We have a lot of talent on our team and have the skills to play ball-control soccer, moving the ball around and always working for a good shot on goal,” Golden Eagles coach Therese Echetermeyer said before the Heritage game. “We are also strong defensively. We have a solid back line that doesn't let many attackers get behind them and we also have talented goalkeepers.”
The Golden Eagles have scored 33 goals and given up two. Twelve players have scored goals so far this season and 14 players have assists. The leading scorer is freshman Mallory Pugh who has 12 goals and one assists. Megan Massey had five goals and five assists and Maddy Smith has six goals and four assists.
After the game, Heritage coach Adam Buseck praised the way his team played in this game and all season.
“We fought hard the whole game as we have in all our games,” the coach said. “Today, we made a couple of mistakes early and, since they are a good team, they took advantage of those mistakes to score goals.”
Buseck said his team depth is a major plus because he can keep fresh players on the field throughout the game without impacting the quality of his team's play.
The coach said his team struggled a little early, but he encourages the team to keep battling because they are not out of the playoff picture yet.
“This is a good soccer team with a lot of talented players on the roster,” he said. “We have had some players sidelined with injuries but we still are very competitive. With the exception of Mountain Vista, our league is very competitive, so we could start winning games and still get one of the wild-card spots in the playoffs.”
The team has spread the scoring around, with three players scoring goals and five players with assists. Alyssa Biever, a sophomore, is the scoring leader with three goals, and teammate Ellen Best, a freshman, has a goal and has taken a team-high 15 shots on goal.
One of the Eagles'team leaders is senior Syd Slouka.
“Soccer is my sport,” she said. “I run cross country and I am on the swimming team, but soccer is very different because it is a team game and every game is different. I really like it.”
She said she has played center defender until this year when the coach moved her up to play center midfielder.
“I guess the coach moved me to strengthen the team, but I have found I like the move to midfield,” she said with a smile. “Midfield is fun. It is different than defense because I get to connect with more of my teammates and I get the chance to shoot the ball on goal.”
She said there is a big transition from swimming in the winter season to playing soccer in the spring.
“The two sports require very different muscles. In swimming a lot of the technique requires arm strength, while soccer is about core and leg muscles,” she said. “But swimming does build cardiovascular stamina. Then, you go to soccer and work on stamina in your leg muscles.”
She said she has one goal this season and it was a big thrill and felt so good. She said that among many goals she is working on, she wants to score some more goals for the soccer team.