Blue Goose takes it on the chin against Vail
BRECKENRIDGE – As halftime speeches go, this one said it all.With his team down 25-0 at home and struggling mightily against archrival Vail on Saturday, Gentlemen of the Blue Goose coach Mike Pobar didn’t mince words in the huddle.”You’re the Goose,” he said. “You’re playing like a bunch of geese.”It would have taken much more than a pep talk for the Breckenridge-based Goose to turn things around in the second half at Kingdom Park. As it was, the final 40 minutes provided more of the same as the Gentlemen dropped their opening match of the year, 56-5.Club captain Zack Zellars scored the team’s lone try on a rare mountain day with thermometers in the 80s. Still, new faces, untested bodies and, as usual, a powerful Vail side made the Blue Goose’s season opener more an opportunity to gain experience than anything else.The Gentlemen had dealt with frustration the past two weekends, as a pair of matches were called off due to weather. This time the match went on, but not the way they’d planned.”We couldn’t wait to get out here,” Goose veteran Buck Goroski said. “We were a bit fired up, but I thought we’d be more. Then again, it’s first-game jitters for a lot of people.”The Eagle County visitors used three tries and a penalty kick to jump out to the convincing halftime lead as Breckenridge’s players spent more time chasing the ball in their own end than advancing it into enemy territory. The hosts didn’t win their first lineout until around the 38-minute mark. The one-sided play changed slightly in the second half, as the Goose began finding its way and making headway on the pitch. Goroski and fleet-footed Derrick Cottrell found seams up front and advanced the ball deep into Vail’s end, but a Christian Heavens try was nullified when the official said he received the ball on a forward pass.Zellars plunged across to get the Goose into the scoring column at 42-5 late in the second half. Johan Esterhuizen’s quick burst paved the way for the score.Despite the lopsided final margin, the Goose held its own up front; Vail’s advantages were most evident on the wings and in the set plays they ran to perfection so many times on the afternoon.”I was proud of the effort everyone gave with all the new faces and getting started against a team like Vail,” Zellars said. “They come prepared to play every year. They’ve got a lot of foreign guys on their team who grew up playing rugby, and a lot of our guys were brand new.”With the exception of a few close matches over the years, this rivalry has belonged solely to Vail. It has been nearly a decade, in fact, since the Gentlemen won a match against their western neighbors.”I don’t want to say every time we come out against Vail we know we’re going to lose, because we’ve had some close matches against them – most of the time in Vail, believe it or not,” Goroski said.The Goose will get another crack at Vail on July 16, in Vail. By then, Zellars said, the score should be a little closer.”It’s a struggle we go with every year,” he said, “but it seems like we improve as the season goes on and our players get more experience and we get people in the positions they should be playing.”Saturday’s match not only kicked off the Goose’s overall schedule, but also its Mountain Cup schedule. Four teams – Breckenridge, Vail, Steamboat and Defiance (Glenwood Springs) – will be chasing the Cup in a league that was formed this summer.Devon O’Neil can be contacted at (970) 668-3998, ext. 231, or at email@example.com.
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