Take league title
by Than Acuff
Amid a driving snowstorm, the West Elk U19 boys soccer team took down Gunnison 8-1 on Thursday, May 23 to win the Mountain League title.
It’s been an erratic spring season for the West Elk squad, with a league that started out robust before teams dropped like flies due to a variety of issues, weather that hampered training and a West Elk team that mixed in moments of brilliance with sporadic episodes of apathy.
Ultimately, they saved the best for last as the team put together 90 minutes of quality soccer as a storm rolled through the north end of the valley.
West Elk scored early and often with the first strike of the game coming a minute into regulation as Dagan Schwartz took a pass down the flank and crossed the ball low into the six-yard area for Cedar Fessenden to punch home.
The two teams disintegrated into 15 minutes of boot ball before West Elk calmed down to create opportunities up top. Fessenden threaded a pass through to Ethan Bacani for the second strike of the first half and Eric Lain popped a pass through to Fessenden for his second goal of the half and a 3-0 lead at halftime.
As the snow picked up, so did the play of West Elk as they rattled off five more goals in the second half. A series of passes set up Lain in the middle with the ball. Lain then spun to slot a pass to Henry Bryndal on the weak side flank, and Bryndal pushed his shot past the Gunnison keeper. Four minutes later, Schwartz jumped on a deflected shot to drive a low shot into the back of the net and then Finn Smith carried the ball almost the entire length of the field before pushing it through to Fessenden for his third goal of the game.
Schwartz and Lain linked up to score a seventh goal for West Elk in the 70th minute of the game before Gunnison player Josias Navarette slipped open to drive his shot past West Elk keeper Alex Eldridge for Gunnison’s lone goal of the game.
Nathan Miller then capped the scoring frenzy in the 80th minute on a penalty kick and West Elk rolled through the final 10 minutes for the 8-1 win and the league title.
The boys will take the summer off before returning to the practice field in August to prepare for the upcoming high school season.