Preps: Aspen boys soccer opens season with double overtime loss to Crested Butte

Aspen High School boys soccer plays Crested Butte on Saturday, Aug. 21, 2021, on the AHS turf.
Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

Facing a small but mighty regional foe, the Aspen High School boys soccer team got its season underway Saturday with a tough 1-0 double overtime home loss to Crested Butte on the AHS turf.

“They are a good team. They’ve had a lot of success over the last three years,” Aspen coach Dave Francis said. “We knew this was going to be a tough, first game. But honestly, I thought we had the better of the game. I thought our guys played really well.”

The Skiers did control much of the contest and had their fair share of chances at net, but it was a goal by the Titans a touch over two minutes into the second sudden-death overtime period that put an end to the match.

Crested Butte has been a recent powerhouse in Class 2A, winning that classification’s state championship this past spring in the delayed pandemic season. The Titans also won the 2A crown in 2018. They entered this fall ranked preseason No. 1 in 2A.

Saturday’s game was the second in two days for the Titans (2-0), who opened their season Friday with a 5-2 win at Basalt.

“We moved the ball well. We definitely had our chances to score first half, second half. But it’s how soccer goes,” Francis said. “If you don’t take your chances, you always run the risk of losing the game. Not always the best team wins. What can I say? I thought our performance was really good. I thought the boys had great attitude, they battled hard and they played some really good soccer.”

Aspen (0-1) is trying to move on from a tough spring season that netted them only a pair of wins. The previous season, in the fall of 2019, the Skiers also struggled, going only 2-13 overall, with a 6-9 record coming in 2018. A 7-5-3 record in 2017 is the last time AHS finished with more wins than losses.

However, a robust squad beefed up by a strong freshman class could have the program trending upward again in the next few years.

Gallery caption: Photos: Aspen boys soccer vs. Crested Butte

“We’ve seen a drop off in soccer a lot these last two or three years — certainly up in Aspen. The club has effectively folded, so there is no feeder program now,” Francis said. “We are super excited for those younger guys and then a couple of other guys have come back to soccer as well. I feel really good about the group and this team. The program as a whole this year, there are some really good kids in there and they look very willing and able to learn.”

The season as a whole has been shaken up a bit for local teams because of the frequent Glenwood Canyon closures, forcing the Western Slope League to reshuffle its 3A and 4A sides to make traveling through the canyon a non-factor. However, exactly how that reshuffling worked in regard to who is in league together wasn’t entirely clear at the moment, admitted Francis.

What is known is the Skiers will be off until playing Telluride, another strong 2A program, on Tuesday in Grand Junction before the team will take what looks to be a long hiatus around the following week’s experiential education trips. All AHS teams typically don’t play or practice the week of ex-ed.

By the time they return to the pitch, Francis is hoping to clarify some leadership positions within the team in hopes of making a playoff push later this fall.

“I want to give some guys an opportunity to show that they have real leadership skills,” Francis said, “and can come to the top instead of me picking captains early in the season and then maybe not quite making the right decisions. So I’m going to let the team develop its leadership and let the real leaders come to the top.”

Basalt (0-1), which has a new head coach this season in Carlos Salazar, is tentatively scheduled to next play Tuesday at Delta. The Panthers were effectively ranked No. 11 in Class 3A in the preseason poll. Coal Ridge looks to be the team to beat on the Western Slope, as the Titans come in ranked No. 7 in the preseason poll.

Basalt softball goes winless in tough openers

The Basalt High School softball team opened its season with four losses at a tournament hosted by Eaton over the weekend. The Longhorns lost to La Junta and University on Friday, before falling to Fort Lupton and Lamar on Saturday.

Three of those four teams are currently ranked in the top 10 of Class 3A, while Lamar is effectively No. 11. BHS, under the guidance of first-year head coach Amy Bollock, also was receiving a few votes to be ranked.

The Longhorns (0-4) will play their first home game on Tuesday when Aspen (0-2) makes the trip downvalley. The Skiers lost twice to Durango in their openers on Aug. 14 before having their games against Cedaredge this past week rescheduled because of rain.

Basalt volleyball beats Gunnison in opener

The Basalt High School volleyball team opened its season Saturday with a 3-1 win at Gunnison. The Longhorns (1-0) are now off until Thursday evening when they will play at Aspen (1-0) in what looks to be an exciting early-season, non-league contest.

The Skiers played to a thrilling 3-2 win over Glenwood Springs to open their season this past Thursday and also are off until hosting Basalt.