Basalt soccer nails down 6th seed | AspenTimes.com

Basalt soccer nails down 6th seed

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jeff Caspersen/Post Independent Basalt senior Jason Martellaro and his Longhorn teammates will face Telluride in the first round of the Class 3A boys soccer playoffs on Wednesday.

BASALT – Basalt head soccer coach John McDermott calls this squad his best in his four-year tenure.

Now, his Longhorns get the chance to prove him right.

Basalt, which finished 11-3-1 overall and clinched the Region 7 title for the second time in three years, nabbed the sixth seed in this season’s 32-team 3A state tournament field, released Sunday afternoon. The Longhorns, one of four Region 7 teams to qualify for postseason play (Coal Ridge, Colorado Rocky Mountain School and Roaring Fork), hosts No. 27 Telluride on Wednesday afternoon.

With a win, Basalt will host the winner of No. 11 Weld Central and No. 22 Alexander Dawson in Saturday’s round of 16. No. 3 Denver Christian, a team the Longhorns topped, 2-1, on Sept. 5, potentially looms in Nov. 5’s quarterfinals.

“It’s a good [draw]. We couldn’t ask for a better one, I don’t think,” Longhorns head coach John McDermott said Sunday. “It’s just a question of keeping the kids up after a week off. It’s hard to keep this momentum, but it’s there.”

After two head-scratching defeats to CRMS and Roaring Fork in the first week of league play, the Longhorns have been dominant. They are riding a nine-game winning streak into the playoffs and have not dropped a game since Sept.17.

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“It was probably good that we lost those two games. They know what defeat tastes like,” McDermott said. “The kids were nervous and scared, and came up and said they never felt like this before. I said, ‘Good. That’s how you should feel.’ … We’ve really turned things around.”

Basalt has logged five shutouts and is outscoring opponents, 46-6, in its last nine games.

“It’s the best feeling on the sidelines – it’s better than having an NFL fantasy team,” McDermott joked. “If someone isn’t playing well, we have 10 other guys who can take their place. … We’ve started playing the game we can play. We’ve been able to grind teams down in the first quarter of the first half, and even though it’s only one or two to nothing, in the second half you see a general disintegration of other teams’ play.

“[We’re] kind of a scary team.”

The Longhorns, who have advanced to the state quarterfinals in each of the last five seasons (the field was expanded from 16 to 32 in 2008), face a draw very similar to last fall’s. Then 12th-seeded Basalt opened against a ski- town school last season – it routed Crested Butte, 7-0 – then rode a late firsthalf goal to a 1-0 win over Weld Central in the second round.

The Longhorns were ousted in the quarterfinals by No. 4 Fountain Valley. A blown assignment led to a Danes goal on an indirect kick in the 63rd minute that proved to be the difference.

While his team is battling injuries – most notably to forward David Gruenefeldt, who tweaked his knee – McDermott said he is expecting big things this postseason.

“I never predict anything this time of the season, but I definitely have a bit of confidence going in,” McDermott said. “Everyone is saying this is one of the strongest teams to ever come out of Basalt. It’s my job to make sure they’re mentally prepared and physically prepared. … They know they can play with anybody.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com