Golden Eagles field hockey season going strong

Posted 10/9/08

Mountain Vista may still be growing in numbers and success, but this season, it has no clue how it will pair up come the field hockey post season. …

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Golden Eagles field hockey season going strong


Mountain Vista may still be growing in numbers and success, but this season, it has no clue how it will pair up come the field hockey post season.

The final four could have anyone in it at this point.

At least that’s how Mountain Vista coach Brian Nutter saw it after Cherry Creek beat the Golden Eagles Sept. 27 at Shea Stadium in Highlands Ranch 1-0 after having previously beaten proven programs like Kent Denver (2-1) and Colorado Academy (3-1).

After Cherry Creek, the Golden Eagles carried a 6-3 record in a season in which unpredictable outcomes have been common among the state’s 14 high school teams.

“I couldn’t tell you who’s going to be in the final four,” Nutter said. “The season is wide open. We’ve had some big wins this season so far, and then we come and lose to [Cherry Creek] that hasn’t been as good as a team as they would like. I’m excited for the season. It encourages a lot of good play.”

Last season, Vista called attention to itself after finishing the regular season ranked No. 1 in the state. Nutter said it forced opponents this year to take the team more seriously.

“It’s kind of opened the door for our teams to be stepping up and playing really good hockey,” he said. “We’ve come a long way in just a few years. It’s a lot of heart and dedication that allowed us to get there.”

Since the program began, and being the only high school field hockey team in South Metro and Douglas County, Mountain Vista has served as a sort of unified Douglas County team. Last year, it picked up Littleton Public School District students as well. This year is the same story.

The Golden Eagles roster includes students from Vista, Highlands Ranch, ThunderRidge and Heritage high schools. Senior captain Claire Butler said the unification and camaraderie has been a team strength.

“We kind of know where each other is on the field, and we’re good at passing and talking. I think part of that is because we’re close off the field,” Butler said. “Our team does things outside of practice, which helps us bond and be better as a team. We know each other’s personalities and get along on the field.”

Senior captain Sam Kroll also feels the season has been more exciting this year, since each game has been difficult to predict. She said the team’s success has been helped by a variety of players who can contribute and find the back of the goal.

“It’s hard to predict who is going to be the top team. It’s been so up and down,” Kroll said. “We’ve definitely shared the wealth [this year]. A lot of people have been stepping up and contributing, scoring goals instead of just a couple main players. There’s not one person [opponents] can mark. It’s spread throughout the field.”

Butler said heart would be the biggest factor in deciding which team took the state championship this season. It has forced teams to hit the field with their very best, even against teams easily beaten in seasons past. It has been more exciting for the girls and field hockey fans, Butler said.

“I don’t think one team is necessarily on top,” she said. “We bring a lot to the table. Whoever has more heart wins it all.”

With elements of soccer, hockey and lacrosse involved, several girls were attracted to the unified field hockey team from other sports. Butler was a soccer athlete when she was younger, while Kroll made the transition from her lacrosse team.

“I quit to play hockey year round,” Kroll, who wasn’t fond of her lacrosse program, said. “This was such a positive atmosphere, and I really liked the coach and the girls. We were doing well. All the more reason to donate my time to the program.”

“I used to play soccer when I was younger, but I just really enjoy field hockey,” Butler said. “It’s a big commitment, and I feel I’d like to devote my time to one sport then trying to juggle two sports.”

Mountain Vista’s field hockey program has consistently grown over the past five years. So much so, it can’t even keep up with itself.

“When I was a freshman, we could barely fill up two teams. It was so small, and now it’s crazy,” Sam Kroll said. “People in school actually know who we are now.”

Kroll said this season, the program had enough girls to form a C-team, but it was unable to acquire the coaching staff for it. Instead, its junior varsity roster is busting at the seams.

“We haven’t seen this many girls come out for field hockey since the program started. It’s awesome that it keeps growing,” Claire Butler said.

Nutter said the team is obviously still going through some growing pains, given the 1-0 loss to Cherry Creek, but he feels a loss like that can be helpful to the girls.

“I feel confident with this team, but it’s one of those things where a loss could be the best thing to happen to you as a team. What you often see is girls learn from it and don’t make those same mistakes again,” the coach said. “I hope we can gain from this. I’m proud of this team and what they’ve accomplished.”


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