Buzbee named Co-MVP award; six other Aspen players honored | AspenTimes.com

Buzbee named Co-MVP award; six other Aspen players honored

Jon Maletz

Aspen forward Stephen Buzbee stops the ball against CRMS in September. Buzbee and Felipe Sanchez of Basalt were named co-MVPs of the Western Slope. (Aspen Times file)

As time expired in Oct. 20’s double-overtime, one-goal loss to Colorado Academy, Aspen was visibly and understandably crushed.Players dragged their cleats across the field as they headed for the locker room. Some remained where they stood when the whistle blew, holding their heads in their hands as they contemplated what had just transpired. Junior forward Steven Buzbee was dazed as he sat motionless on an empty Skiers bench.Buzbee wanted to remember the moment, remember the anguish of having one more game slip away. It is a moment that will undoubtedly provide extra motivation for both Buzbee and Aspen next season. Such a proposition is daunting for opponents, who had a hard enough time stopping the junior in 2005.Despite increased attention from opposing defenders, Buzbee’s elusiveness helped guide the Skiers (10-6, 7-3) to one of their strongest seasons in school history. His team-leading and career-high 19 goals and eight assists were good enough to earn him league co-MVP honors with Basalt senior Felipe Sanchez. “He had a fantastic season,” Aspen coach Grant Sutherland said. “He works so hard and has improved every year. I can’t wait to watch him next year.”Buzbee leads a list of seven Aspen players who garnered All-League honors. Buzbee, juniors Ryder Fyrwald and Nicky Anastas and senior Henry Cote were first team selections. Juniors Matt Cooper and Eric Sciarrone, and senior D.J. Furth received honorable mention.

Fyrwald was Aspen’s strongest and most consistent performer all season, Sutherland said. Fyrwald’s three goals and three assists from the midfield position were modest, but his positive attitude and complete game were worthy of recognition.”He’s one of the those players most people won’t notice, but if you know the game and watch his positioning, you will realize how great he is,” Sutherland said. “He’s a strong, big player.”While Fyrwald held everything together, it was fellow midfielder Anastas who provided the creativity, Sutherland said. Anastas’ skill was routinely on display as he attacked from both the left and right, providing multiple scoring chances for forwards. Fyrwald and Anastas’ contrasting styles worked well together and will be one of the Skiers strengths next season.While the Skiers relied on their sweeper Cote’s physical play and tenacity, they rallied around his heart, determination and commitment to the team. Cote was knocked unconscious following a head on collision with Colorado Rocky Mountain School’s Chris Sellers on Sept. 15. Cote began convulsing and his heart reportedly stopped beating. While there was speculation when, or if, Cote would return, he took the field just 12 days later. With he nerves erased following that first header, Cote quickly returned to form and helped the Skiers win three consecutive games. “Some people couldn’t have done what he did,” Sutherland said. “He put all the worry aside and played hard and he deserves everything he’s gotten. He’s just a good kid to be around.”

Furth also proved his resiliency and team-first mentality. The senior, who sat out much of last year with an injury, battled shin splints during the second half of the season, Sutherland said. In his last home game against Colorado Academy and despite the pain, Furth played the entire game. Alongside Cote and Cooper, Furth helped slow the Mustangs attack.Cooper’s ability to control the ball in the backfield was a calming force all season, said Sutherland, who has watched the junior progress since he was 10. With Furth, Cote and goalkeeper Fred Bernard leaving, Aspen will be fortunate to have Cooper back next season.While the defense may be a question mark, the forward position, led by Buzbee and Sciarrone, will be one of the team’s strengths. Sciarrone, who struggled through a sophomore season as a midfielder, was moved to forward in 2005 and responded with 11 goals. “Playing alongside Buzbee really helped him,” Sutherland said. “Halfway through the season he became hungry and started going for the ball. He became a different player.”There is reason for optimism in Aspen. Sutherland will have nine seniors in 2006, all with substantial varsity experience. Basalt – the league champion in 2005 – loses 11 seniors.With experience at nearly every position and the pain of a playoff heartbreaker fresh in everyone’s mind, Sutherland expects his team to make a run at the 3A title. Anything less than a final four appearance would be a disappointment, he said.

Sutherland is well aware of the urgency. He feels for this year’s seniors, whose last high school soccer experience was a negative one. He hopes next year, both he and the seniors will go out on top.After 16 years of coaching in Aspen – seven as the high school’s head coach – Sutherland said he has decided to resign at the end of next season. Like Erik Streff, who resigned after this season, Sutherland and Aspen will have the talent and experience to make one final run.”I made the decision a year ago that when these kids were done, I’d be done,” Sutherland said. “I respect Erik and his decision to quit. He finished what he wanted to and worked his players through. I want to be able to finish the same way.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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