Aspen girls soccer to play No. 2 Manitou Springs in first round of state playoffs |

Aspen girls soccer to play No. 2 Manitou Springs in first round of state playoffs

Basalt was left out of the 16-team postseason field

Aspen High School's Clare Irvin controls the ball in the girls soccer game against Basalt on Thursday, June 10, 2021, on the AHS turf. Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

Aspen High School girls soccer coach Chris Ellis could have told you the team would be facing a strong opponent in the first round of the state playoffs well before the bracket was released on Sunday. With only a 16-team field this spring, any squad that found itself among those few had to be solid.

“Only 16 made it, of which we are one,” Ellis said Sunday evening. “That’s what we worked hard for all season, is to make the playoffs.”

The Skiers (6-3-1 overall) were given the No. 15 seed in the Class 3A state tournament and will play at No. 2 seed Manitou Springs (10-0) in the first round on Wednesday. Game time is scheduled for 8 p.m.

This will be the second straight game Aspen will face an undefeated team after it lost 5-2 at Vail Mountain on Saturday in the regular-season finale. That loss gave VMS the 3A Western Slope League crown over Aspen, which had already secured no worse than the league’s No. 2 spot with last week’s senior day win over Basalt. The top two teams in the WSL earned an automatic bid into the state tournament.

“Vail was a good warm up, yes. When you find yourself in the playoffs, you are going to be playing good teams,” Ellis said. “Everybody that makes the playoffs are good teams, so there is no surprise in that. You are going to face a good team and their record speaks for itself.”

The Manitou Springs Mustangs have been as dominant as a team could be this spring. They’ve outscored opponents 82-1 over the 10 games, the only goal they’ve conceded coming in a 3-1 win over Thomas MacLaren School on June 8. Their two top goal scorers, Madrid Mack (17 goals) and Erica Sherwin (14 goals), are only sophomores.

Like Aspen, the Mustangs are a perennial playoff qualifier. Both programs are chasing its first state title in girls soccer. The Skiers’ best run in recent years was in 2018, when they made the state semifinals as the No. 13 seed.

Ellis said that outside of a few minor dings, the AHS side is healthy and will be ready to face the tall task that will be the Mustangs later this week.

Aspen High School girls soccer coach Chris Ellis listens during the halftime break against Basalt on Thursday, June 10, 2021, on the AHS turf. Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times.

“We’ve got a few days to recuperate and rest and that we shall,” Ellis said. “Their record speaks for itself, doesn’t it? They are the No. 2 seed. We should prepare as we have all season and arrive at the game on Wednesday ready to play.”

Five-time state champion Kent Denver (8-0-2) is the tournament’s No. 1 seed, followed by No. 2 Manitou Springs and No. 3 Vail Mountain, which actually finished the spring with the best RPI in Class 3A.

Basalt, which finished 7-3 overall, did not make the 16-team field. The Longhorns finished No. 18 in RPI, one spot ahead of Aspen, which jumped ahead of BHS and into the tournament based off its runner-up finish in league. Roaring Fork (4-5-1) finished No. 21 in RPI and also just missed out on a trip to the postseason.

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