HIGHLANDS RANCH — This spring's Mountain Vista girls soccer team has a blend of solid experience, talented underclassmen and national quality players.
So far that has been a successful blueprint.
The Golden Eagles are Colorado's top-ranked Class 5A team and are off to a 4-0-0 start, including a 2-0-0 record in the Continental League.
“There is a lot of talent, a lot of returning seniors that have been on the varsity for three or four years,” Mountain Vista coach Theresa Echtermeyer said. “We have a lot of experience, which is nice. We have three core sophomores who were starters last year.
“In the offseason, I was a little worried about how our team chemistry was going to be, and it really started to come together in last couple weeks and you can see it on the pitch. The girls do well training together, on the field, and that really shows when you play on Tuesday and Thursday nights. Their chemistry is very good and I expect that to get better through the season.”
Mountain Vista has scored 18 goals in its four victories.
“We're a little bit different style team than we've been in the past,” Echtermeyer said. “In the past we've been more of a defensive-oriented team. The thing I probably like the most about this group is our technical ability to hold onto the ball, probe a little bit and make good choices instead of just giving up the ball. We are obviously able to score goals.”
The Golden Eagles are pretty good defensively, as they have allowed just one goal in the four games before spring break.
“We have two very experienced goalkeepers (Torell Stewart and Danielle Cushing), and both are seniors,” Echtermeyer said. “My two center backs are pretty special. I have Gabbi Miranda and Mariel Adams, both seniors. Mariel is going to be going to Notre Dame and Gabriel to UCLA. Gabbi has been in the national pool too.
“Mariel Adams is somebody people forget about. Mariel and Gabbi are a great duo. Mariel gets forgotten about sometimes because Gabbi gets the national attention.”
Miranda, still in her age group national pool after playing for the U17 United States World Cup team in Azerbaijan last September, has four goals and two assists in four games this season from her defensive position and is second on the team in scoring.
“We have good balance between experienced and young, new players,” Miranda explained. “This year we have a real good chance because we're not holding back and the young talent we have is giving us opportunities to provide threats for opponents.
“We're just kind of utilizing the speed and threats we have up top. Our back line is very solid. So it's not like we're as worried, and we're taking the opportunities we have with our attacking players and take full advantage of them.”
Sophomore forward Megan Massey leads the team with four goals and three assists for 11 points. Freshman standout Mallory Pugh has four goals.
“Megan was a starter for us last year,” Echtermeyer said. “She is really strong through the midfield, plays real tough, a real good ball winner, great playmaker, but again is a good scoring threat.
“We have a good freshman class, but Mal is the player the spotlight is on. She's going with the U17 national team to Costa Rica at the end of April. She is a very special player. Mal is the real deal. “
Mountain Vista won the 2011 state championship, and Miranda knows the offensive potential of this spring's team makes the Golden Eagles more dangerous.
“This year I can honestly say we might be better than the state championship team because we are so quick and good on the ball,” she said. “The state championship team, we were like fighting the whole season. This season we might be able to develop comfortable leads. As a program, we are definitely improving our attacking mentality.”
Echtermeyer also figures the 2013 Golden Eagles match up with the title team.
“This team definitely compares with that team,” said Echtermeyer. “Our goal is to stay healthy, try to get better every game and don't look past any team. We need to make sure we make good choices with the ball, protect the ball and make sure it goes back to the green. And, we need to capitalize more on our scoring chances. We just want to get a step better every game.
“It's really simple. We're not looking for anything complex. We're pretty solid through all thirds of the pitch.”