After pulling off upset, Aspen girls soccer turns attention toward Colorado Academy
The Aspen High School girls soccer team might have been flying under the radar when the playoffs started, but it likely has a massive target on its back now.
Only three days after pulling off the biggest upset of the first round, the No. 15 seed Skiers will play at No. 10 Colorado Academy on Saturday with a spot in the Class 3A semifinals on the line.
Game time is 3 p.m. in Denver.
“I think people have taken notice, yes,” Aspen coach Chris Ellis said during Friday evening’s practice. “But from our perspective with the game less than 24 hours away, it’s time to put that to one side. We’ve enjoyed that moment, but it’s time to put it aside and get ready for tomorrow.”
The Skiers snuck into the postseason after finishing second behind Vail Mountain in the 3A Western Slope League. Facing No. 2 Manitou Springs in the first round on Wednesday, Aspen stunned the previously undefeated Mustangs, winning 5-1 over a team that had only conceded a single goal throughout their 10 regular-season games.
“We’ve been working a lot together on team spirit and just the overall attitude toward coming into a game,” AHS senior Edie Sherlock said. “It’s not to say they weren’t a great team — we definitely struggled in the first 20 minutes — but we were just able to take that positivity and come out and after 20 minutes score a goal and then keep them coming.”
Now 7-3-1 overall, Aspen is hoping for similar results against Colorado Academy (8-2-1), which beat No. 7 Liberty Common in the first round, 2-1.
“They are obviously good. They’ve made it this far,” Sherlock said of the Colorado Academy Mustangs. “My mindset is just work hard, play hard, leave it all out there on the field. This could be my last game. I’m hoping it’s not, but just try my hardest and know I’ve left everything out there instead of wishing I could have done something differently.”
Aspen’s stunning upset of Manitou Springs came with two goals apiece from juniors Jenny Ellis and Zea Anderson, who also combined for three assists. Chris Ellis said the win was in large part because the Skiers played collectively and within the confines of what was asked of each individual.
“Everybody knew their position and the role they were playing and what was expected of them,” he said. “And they were able to execute the task, each and every one of them. When you have 11 players all understanding what the task is and what their role in that is, you can have a good game.”
Colorado Academy enters the game with only three non-wins, all three of those coming against teams that are also playing in the quarterfinal round on Saturday, including No. 1 seed Kent Denver (a 1-1 draw on June 10), No. 8 Lutheran (4-3 loss on June 4) and No. 4 Jefferson Academy (4-1 loss on May 14).
Kent Denver and Lutheran play each other at 10 a.m. on Saturday, while Jefferson Academy faces No. 5 Colorado Springs Christian at 7 p.m.
No. 3 Vail Mountain and No. 6 The Academy play in the other quarterfinal game at 5:30 p.m., with that winner moving onto Wednesday’s semifinals against the Aspen-Colorado Academy victor. The semifinals will both be played at the Stutler Bowl in Aurora.
The complete bracket can be found here.
“The girls are definitely looking forward to another adventure and seeing if they can make it happen again,” Chris Ellis said.
The Skiers are hoping to make the state semifinals for the first time since 2018, when Sherlock and her fellow seniors were freshmen. Aspen lost to eventual champion Jefferson Academy in that semifinal game after making a surprise run through the playoffs as the No. 13 seed.
“I remember that very vividly,” Sherlock recalled of that 2018 season. “In both scenarios we’ve kind of been the underdogs. The biggest flashback I’m getting is just how excited everyone is, just because we didn’t expect it, at all. And it’s really cool to see it as a freshman and then as a senior.”
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