Golden goal propels Rifle over Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Golden goal propels Rifle over Aspen

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jon Maletz/The Aspen TimesThe Skiers' Cole Bond battles a Rifle player for possession Tuesday afternoon at Aspen High School.

ASPEN – The Aspen soccer team misfired on multiple prime scoring chances during the first half Tuesday afternoon. It came back to haunt them late.

A resilient Rifle side battled back to square the match at one with just 2 minutes, 45 seconds left in regulation. Early in the second overtime, the Bears executed a perfect corner kick and headed home the golden goal to escape with a come-from-behind win.

“We didn’t play well at all. I don’t know what it was,” said Skiers head coach Junior Sutherland, whose squad has lost two games in overtime this season. “That definitely was not the team I’ve seen play the last three or four games.”

Aspen (4-4), fresh off wins over Vail Mountain School and Colorado Rocky Mountain School, controlled the pace early Tuesday. In the 23rd minute, goalkeeper Erik Wehse and Nelson Orellana hooked up to give the Skiers the lead; Wehse booted a towering goal kick up the pitch, Orellana chased it down and, after his initial shot was deflected by the Rifle keeper, he corralled the ball and drilled it into the back of the net.

Wehse helped preserve that lead, spoiling no fewer than three potential Bears goals with spectacular sprawling saves. And when he was caught out of position during one play in the early stages of the second half, teammate Michael Schumacher was perfectly positioned on the goal line to dive and knock a shot out of harm’s way.

“The game of soccer can be pretty cruel sometimes,” Rifle head coach David Romero said. “For the most part we opened up kind of late. Once we saw that we could play, we started doing better.

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“We started playing positions a little better. So we were staying home a little more and were there to receive the ball. Then you kind of start feeling everyone start to [push] forward.”

Bears players flooded Aspen’s side of the pitch for extended periods down the stretch. On one of those occasions, with less than 3 minutes remaining in regulation, senior Javier Peralta headed a ball on net that Wehse deflected; it caromed right back to Peralta, who didn’t miss with a second header.

All three of the Skiers’ scoring chances in the first overtime went by the wayside. In the second extra period, Rifle stood tall. Julio Aguirre headed home a perfect corner kick to send the visitors home with a hard-fought victory.

“That was perfect. You couldn’t ask for much more,” Romero said. “A cross coming in like that is tough for any goalie.”

Added Sutherland: “We definitely did not play, and we got punished. We dropped to a level we should never have gotten to. I hope we bounce back against Coal Ridge on Thursday on the road.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com