Aspen falls to defending champs in quarterfinals | AspenTimes.com

Aspen falls to defending champs in quarterfinals

Tim Mutrie
Aspen Times Staff Writer

The Aspen High girls soccer team was bounced from the Class 3A state playoffs in the quarterfinals Tuesday, losing 8-0 to two-time defending champion Denver Christian in Denver.

Aspen, the No. 11 seed in the 16-team field, staged a big upset Friday over the previously unbeaten Academy of Charter in Denver. Behind a shutout performance from freshman goalie Lauren Wenzel, who was making her first varsity start in place of an injured Merritt Gates, Aspen advanced to the final eight with a 1-0 win over No. 6 Academy of Charter, which concluded its season at 15-1.

Aspen’s second trip to Denver Tuesday wasn’t so successful as Aspen allowed a goal in the opening 30 seconds of the game.

“The kick from their keeper almost landed in our penalty box,” Grant “Junior” Sutherland, who coaches Aspen along with John Gillies, said of No. 3 Denver Christian’s first goal. “But after that first goal, we started to play with them for the next 15-20 minutes, but then they scored another one. And when they got the third goal, our girls started hanging their heads.”

Denver Christian took a 4-0 halftime lead, and added four more goals in the second half to cement a place in the final four. Denver Christian improved to 12-4, while Aspen concluded its season at 9-6.

“Our goal at the start of the season was to get to the playoffs, and we did that and then some,” Sutherland said. “But we ran up against a great team – they may well win the state championship again.

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“They’re a very good team: fast and strong and physical,” he continued. “The only time we come into a physical game is against Basalt [which lost its quarterfinal match Monday at BHS in a shootout to D’Evelyn] and we’re not used to it.

“Denver Christian plays year-round, nine, ten months of the year. And it makes you realize when our kids only play a couple months of the year and don’t play club, it’s hard to be successful at this level. I think that’s why Basalt has been so successful: they’ve got a good club program in the fall.”

Sutherland said the Aspen team was disappointed with Tuesday’s loss, but realistic as well.

“The girls should be proud of how far they got,” he said. “They’re disappointed, yes, but they accept the fact that we got beat by a good team.”

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