Aspen vs. Basalt soccer showdown today |

Aspen vs. Basalt soccer showdown today

Dale Strode

The stage is set.

And the curtain goes up this afternoon.

The long-awaited high school soccer showdown is set for 4 p.m. today at the Aspen School District Field when Aspen and Basalt play for the 3A Western Slope League championship.

The league title as well as seeding for the 3A state playoffs will be at stake when the valley’s top two girls soccer teams play today.

Basalt enters with a 12-1-0 overall record, 5-0-0 in conference play.

Aspen is 6-5-1 overall and 4-0-1 in league matches.

The Skiers did their part to build momentum for today’s clash with a 7-3 victory over Roaring Fork in Carbondale on Tuesday. While the match was a nonleague contest, it still attracted plenty of attention – and an interested crowd.

The entire Basalt High School girls soccer team was on hand to scout the match in Carbondale, as part of their preparation for today’s showdown at Aspen.

And the Horns had plenty to watch, as feisty Roaring Fork provided a stern challenge before the Skiers pulled away with three goals in the final 11 minutes of the match.

The Skiers’ explosive offense started quickly with a goal from Mae Whitmer on their first possession of the match.

Four minutes later, Ellen Falender pushed the lead to 2-0 with a goal on Aspen’s second shot on goal.

With the Skiers threatening to add to the lead, Roaring Fork rallied on Senior Night when senior Lindsay Plant scored off an assist from fellow senior Mackenzie Tulleners.

With both teams attacking and counter-attacking, the score remained 2-1 until Whitmer scored her second goal of the first half with seven minutes to play.

But Aspen’s 3-1 halftime lead fell under attack early in the second half when Roaring Fork senior Shayna Rippy fired a shot and in the confusion in front of the Aspen net, the ball trickled into the goal off an Aspen defender.

Two minutes later, Falender increased the lead to two goals when she scored to make the margin 4-2 on a direct penalty kick from in close.

But Plant responded with Roaring Fork’s third goal of the match with 25:56 to play, cutting Aspen’s lead to 4-3.

Play then turned more defensive and more physical as the teams went scoreless for nearly 17 minutes.

Aspen finally regained a two-goal advantage when Falender’s corner kick was converted into a goal by Lacee Patterson.

With Roaring Fork’s spell broken, the Skiers added another goal from Falender (her third of the match) and a final goal from Kate Linehan (who had moved out of goal and into the field for the final minutes of the match).

The Skiers, as usual, received midfield and defensive contributions from a variety of players, including Kelly Waldron, Sasha Anastas, Alison Eastley, Natalie Soonthornswad, Paige Elisha, Kelli Dangler, Susannah Cyrus, among others.

Aspen will bid for the undisputed league championship against the Longhorns, who lost only to 4A defending state champion ThunderRidge this year.

Basalt added to its victory total last weekend with a 4-0 nonconference win at Glenwood Springs (another 4A school).

Molly McGrath scored twice against the Demons (her 18th and 19th goals of the season). Megan Macuen and Stephanie Kemp also scored for the Horns.

A big crowd is expected in Aspen today for the league championship match between the Horns and the Skiers.

The teams will battle for seeding position in the 3A state playoffs.

Three teams from the seven-team Western Slope League will advance.

Battle Mountain is in line for the other playoff berth with a 4-1-1 league record, 6-5-3 overall.

A win by Aspen today would clinich the No. 1 playoff berth and the conference championship.

A win by Basalt would give the Longhorns the No. 2 seed and the league title.

And that would send Aspen and Battle Mountain into a tie for second.

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