Roaring Fork opens 3A soccer playoffs with 3-0 win; Basalt advances
Aspen Times correspondent
After taking a 1-0 lead just over five minutes into their first-round 3A state playoff game in Carbondale against the 25 seed, the Rams of Roaring Fork High School struggled to give themselves some extra cushion.
But a halftime coaches’ talk about calming down and simplifying their game paid off with two goals in the second half, en route to a 3-0 win for the eighth-seeded Rams over the Timnath Cubs Wednesday night.
“This team’s really talented and sometimes they lean into that and play a little over-complicated, which can get in the way of efficiency,” head coach Nick Forbes said after the win. “That quality showed through in that second half, and I commend them for keeping with it and getting those goals.”
Roaring Fork senior Jacob Barlow found an opening to the left side of Timnath goalkeeper Kelian Willey at the 34:55 mark to give the home team the early advantage.
Three good chances to extend the lead at 24:30, 20:50 and 16 minutes left to play in the half all came up short for the Rams, though.
Timnath nearly tied it up with 12:50 to play, but the Rams defense was able to clear the ball from the box and keep the Cubs at bay.
“In the playoffs, it’s huge if you don’t bury that second chance and you can see what happens when the other team builds some momentum and feels like they can play,” Forbes said.
The Rams continued to dominate possession in the the second half, but again missed on a close shot with just over three minutes expired.
Barlow finally connected for his second goal off a double rebound at 25:39 when Willey knocked the first Rams shot away and the first rebound shot careened off the crossbar. But the ball came straight toward Barlow’s waiting foot, and finally Roaring Fork had some breathing room.
“The emotions in our team mean a lot to us, but sometimes we get a little in our heads too much,” Barlow said after the win. “As long as we focus on putting that goal away and play the way we’re supposed, It think we’ll be fine.”
The extra insurance came at the 21:22 point in the half when senior Foster Hayes found an opening on the right side and knocked it home.
Roaring Fork is now set to play another perennial playoff team, No. 9 Liberty Common (5-0 winners over Salida Tuesday), for a second-round game at the Rams’ stadium next Tuesday. Roaring Fork tied the Eagles during the regular season, 3-3, in Fort Collins.
Liberty Common knocked Roaring Fork out of last year’s playoffs in the quarterfinals, 3-0, on the Eagles’ home turf — one year after the Rams won the 3A state championship.
“We’ve probably played them more in the playoffs than any other team, so we kind of know what we’re getting into,” Forbes said of the rematch. “We have a lot of things to work on this week to simplify our play and be more efficient in front of the goal. If we can do that, we can beat them.”
Around the region
In other first-round playoff action on Wednesday, No. 6 Rifle won 5-2 over No. 27 Rocky Mountain Prep SMART, and No. 15 Coal Ridge was a 2-1 winner over No. 18 Atlas Prep.
No. 19 Basalt pulled an upset on the road Wednesday, beating No. 14 DSST: College View, 5-3. With the win, the Longhorns advance to face No. 3 Peak to Peak on Tuesday. The Pumas were an 11-1 winner over No. 30 Bayfield in the first round.
With many lingering questions still surrounding the fate of Aspen’s historic Old Powerhouse, City Council decided during Monday’s work session to hold off on providing staff direction on moving the preservation project forward until more information can be presented.