Elizabeth soccer off to record-setting pace

Scott Stocker
Posted

The 2012 Elizabeth soccer team is out to make history at their school. Not that the Cardinals haven’t already been able to set some new standards.

Elizabeth, coached by Gordon Walsh, is off to an 8-2-1 start, which is the best in the schools nine-year history playing the sport. The previous best was last year as the Cardinals turned in a 5-7-3 mark.

Elizabeth lost the season opener to Machebeuf 3-2, suffered their second defeat against Fort Lupton 4-1, and tied Roosevelt 4-4. Other than that, the Cardinals have certainly had their feet in the right shoes while posting four shutouts.

“I didn’t know that we would really do this well, this early, but I felt we had the potential,” Walsh said. “This is my fourth season with the kids, but my second as the head coach. You always hope for a great season and the kids are getting the pieces to fit. This is what experience makes happen.

“We worked hard at the camp at the University of Denver this summer and we fared well against all our competition,” Walsh said. “We have come together as a team. Before, we never seemed to have the individuals to all fit. But they all have been working hard as a unit rather than individuals.”

Elizabeth registered is biggest shutout of the season beating Bennett 9-0. The Cardinals have also been able to blank Skyview (4-0), Woodland Park (5-0) and Englewood (1-0). Elizabeth has been strong in goal this season behind David Crawford, who has only allowed 18 overall.

“David has been great in goal,” Walsh said. “He has really stepped up his play and his overall leadership is such a key to our success. He has the strong leg, strong arm and is diving so much better after the wide shots. He’s had the big games for us when we needed him.”

Crawford was a bit skeptical at the beginning of the season as to how well his team would do.

“We have really come together as a team this year and I think we have the talent to go far,” Crawford said. “I know that I’ve been able to push harder and I think we’ve all been able to push harder as a team. At the first of the year I didn’t know how far we could go and this has been such a pleasant surprise for me.

“We’ve never been this far before and the season has been a lot of fun,” Crawford said. “There have been trying times, for sure, but we’re learning. We just want to keep our heads up and don’t get frustrated.”

When it comes to knocking in the goals for Elizabeth, Nate Morland is the leader, punching in 12 as well as assisting on six others. He pulled off the hat trick with three goals against Roosevelt and another pair of doubles in wins against Bennett and Skyview.

“Nate’s another junior who has played all three of his seasons here,” Walsh said. “His brother, Josh, was a four year starter and he’s followed in his brothers footsteps and he is also an accomplished leader. He just has that ability to create the plays, he finds windows and capitalize on others mistakes.”

Indeed, Morland has been pleased with the way the season has gone.

“We really have been able to come together as a team,” Morland said. “The desire to do well is paying off and I think we do have a good chance of going to state and hopefully win it. We talk as a team, we work out our problems as a team, and we are getting the job done. The hard work is paying off.”

Coby Yannacone is the teams second-leading scorer with nine goals and five assists to his credit. And, there might have been more.

“Coby was out for three games due to injury,” Walsh said. “He’s another playmaker for us and I think and unsung hero. He goes from offense to defense with smooth transition. The opponents just have trouble figuring him out sometimes. That’s certainly to his credit.”

Senior Mitchell Eddy has come through with four goals and five assists and plays that solid defense as well. That’s certainly something his sophomore brother, Travis, can look up to.

“Mitchell’s our captain,” Walsh said. “He has been able to pull us out of a lot of holes with his creative play. He’s another of our fine leaders and the kids rely on him, as well.

“Overall, though, we’ve got the kids who can score,” Walsh said. “Our entire team has the ability to step up and get the job done and that’s what they’ve been doing. We’ve face adversity, who hasn’t? But the kids are believing they can get the job done. They want to be the first team from our school to reach the state playoffs in soccer and I believe they can do it, too.”

Elizabeth also have a two-way kicker, by the way. Anton Alm, who has one goal for the team, is also the kicker for the schools football team. The Cardinals are 3-3 on the gridiron.

“Yes, our potential is there,” Walsh said. “Now we just want to keep the momentum up.”

Season scoring to date: Nate Morland (12 goals, 6 assists), Coby Yannacone (9 goals, 5 assists), Mitchell Eddy (4 goals, 5 assists), Ryan Berg (3 goals, 5 assists), Logan Blakeslee (2 goals, 3 assists), Geoff Fonte (2 goals, 2 assists), Travis Eddy (1 goal, 2 assists), Cody Birks (1 goal, 1 assist), Anton Alm (1 goal), Vladi Patchell (1 goal).