AHS soccer team extends winning streak
It was a banner weekend for the Aspen High School boys soccer team as they ran their season record to 6-0 with a big win Thursday evening over Basalt, 5-2, and a revenge victory Saturday over the Mustangs of Alexander Dawson, a perennial state powerhouse from the Denver area. The Skiers defeated the Front Range team 3-1.
The Mustangs ended the Skiers’ season last year in the semi-finals of the state playoffs, saddling Aspen with a devastating 5-0 loss to cut short the best season in AHS boys soccer history. Dawson had also beaten the Skiers 2-1 in the regular season.
Leading up to the game Saturday, the boys from Aspen were understandably nervous about the contest.
“I couldn’t sleep last night,” said one member of the Aspen coaching staff.
That anxiety was quickly put to rest, though, as the Skiers went out and dominated from the start. Using a balanced team attack, Aspen kept the pressure on the Dawson defense. A direct kick from inside the box four minutes into the game sailed just wide of the Dawson net, and then, four minutes later, the Skiers had a great chance off a corner kick, but the shot was high.
Aspen finally cracked the scoreboard about 20 minutes into the contest when the Skiers’ Jeff Flack sent a nice through ball up the left side of the field and freed up Brendan Wynn for an open chance. Wynn slipped the ball past the Mustangs’ goalie and into the net to stake Aspen to a 1-0 advantage.
The Skiers kept up the pressure for the rest of the opening frame and finally tallied again as the first half came to a close. Duncan Delano fired a beautiful shot from the left wing that beat Dawson’s goalie to the far side and put Aspen ahead 2-0 at halftime.
Just two minutes into the second half, Wynn, the Skiers’ leading scorer, got loose in front again. As he did before, Wynn slipped the ball past the Mustangs’ keeper and into the net for Aspen’s final goal of the day.
Dawson finally solved the Aspen defense with about five minutes left in the game when a point-blank try eluded Aspen goalie Tony Prykril. The goal seemed to energize the Mustangs, and they mounted a nice attack as time was winding down, but Aspen’s defense held firm and the game ended in a 3-1 win for the Skiers.
After the game, Aspen’s coaches, John Gillies and Grant “Junior” Sutherland were all smiles.
“This was sweet,” they said of getting revenge against the Mustangs. “It was a great team performance for us. There were no individuals.”
Sutherland and Gillies gave Dawson credit for playing a strong game and said that help for the Skiers came from some unexpected sources.
“Some freshmen came in and did a great job,” in particular Nick Farrell and Reid Hansen, said Sutherland. “And Duncan Delano was outstanding.”
“It could have easily been 6-1,” Gillies told the team after the game. “Give yourselves a pat on the back.” Hookin’ with the ‘Horns In Thursday’s game, the Skiers jumped out to an early lead over the Longhorns on a goal by Chris Erickson, Aspen’s second-leading scorer. Then, trailing 1-0, Basalt accidentally kicked the ball into their own net for the second goal of the game. Aspen’s standout defender Michael Stege was credited with the score.
A nice feed from Wynn set up Aspen’s Carter Hansen for another goal and a 3-0 lead for the Skiers, but Basalt would make a comeback.
Basalt’s Kyle Farizell opened the scoring for the Longhorns 16 minutes into the second half when he snuck a shot past Prykril. Then, just three minutes later, Erickson was flagged for his second yellow card, meaning he had to miss the rest of the Basalt game as well as the Dawson game. With Erickson gone from the lineup, the Skiers faltered a bit but were bailed out by some excellent defensive play. Minutes later, Wynn converted a direct kick to give Aspen a 4-1 lead.
Basalt answered right back, however, when Tommy Givens made a nice pass to Drew Schiller, who fired a shot home for the Longhorns second goal.
Regulation time ended with the Skiers ahead 4-2, and then they tacked on another score in injury time when Sean Friedland took a nifty feed from Bridger Smith and slipped the ball past Basalt goalie Jeremy Alcoke for the final 5-2 win.
“They played good,” said Basalt head coach John Eaton of the Skiers. “They’re a quality club, and they’re very well coached. For us to stay close with them felt good.”
For the Longhorns, the loss dropped them to 5-3 on the season and could cost them their No. 10 statewide ranking. For the Skiers, the big weekend boosted their record to 6-0 and further solidified their position as the third-ranked team in the state.
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