Loaded Basalt soccer team rolls in home opener
September 9, 2009
BASALT – The Basalt soccer team missed out on a second-consecutive league crown by the narrowest of margins in 2008, a fact head coach John McDermott does not let his team forget.
It appears he has gotten his players’ attention. Fresh off a weekend in which they came within a missed penalty kick of knocking off two of the state’s top teams, the Longhorns opened 3A Western Slope play in dominating fashion Tuesday against visiting Vail Mountain School. Basalt scored twice in the first 13 minutes, David Gruenefeldt recorded a hat trick and the Longhorns’ defense stifled the overmatched Gore Rangers in a 6-0 win.
“It was harder to get up for this game as, say, Denver Christian, but you know we dominated the game,” McDermott said. “We didn’t execute as well as I wanted, but there was no fear that they were going to win the game. It was just a matter of when [the goals] went in and who was going to break out.”
McDermott admitted that, after a trying weekend at the Sun Devil Shootout in Denver, he was worried his team would come out flat Tuesday. (Basalt missed a penalty kick and scored an own goal in Friday’s season-opening, 3-2 loss against third-ranked Kent Denver, but rebounded Saturday with a 2-1 win over second-ranked Denver Christian.)
The Longhorns (2-1 overall, 1-0 conference) put their coach’s concerns to rest moments after Tuesday’s opening whistle. Their quick, skilled front line quickly flooded VMS’ zone and peppered sophomore goalkeeper Nick Vossler with shots. On one such occasion, in the 11th minute, sweeper Omar Lopez passed ahead to Austin Long, who fed fellow forward Gruenefeldt in stride up the right side for the easy score.
Gruenefeldt returned the favor minutes later, lofting a pass into the middle of the box to Long, who turned and fired past Vossler.
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“The one loss we had [over the weekend] was kind of a downer. We came out really wanting this game,” Gruenefeldt said. “It was really important to get those goals in. Once we got the first two, the other team just gave up.”
Not quite. The Gore Rangers, who have a first-year head coach and a roster littered with underclassmen, held the high-powered Basalt offense at bay for the remainder of the first half. That feat could largely be credited to Vossler, who thwarted multiple prime scoring chances with highlight-reel saves.
“He’s just a sophomore, but he plays really strong,” VMS coach Slade Cogswell said. “I think he’s got a lot of promise.
“It’s always a little tough to start on the road. I think what I told the guys today is that this program has a reputation for growing every day. This game was what it was, but it was a lesson for us.”
A humbling lesson. The Longhorns’ superior depth and physical play eventually took its toll on the Gore Rangers, resulting in a second-half scoring barrage that put the game out of reach. Long drew a defender on a 2-on-1 up the right side in the 45th minute, then passed off to sophomore Hector Morales. After Morales’ shot bounced off Vossler’s gloves, Gruenefeldt tapped home the deflection near the far post to stretch the lead to three.
Gruenefeldt took on two defenders on a sprint up the left side in the 52nd minute and finished off another rebound to record the hat trick.
Santiago Marciani and Eduardo Fernandez found the net in the final three minutes for the Longhorns, who are looking to regain the conference crown a year after finishing second to eventual state champion Hotchkiss.
“Basalt is a good team and should be happy about how they played,” said Cogswell, whose team opens conference play with four consecutive road games, the next coming Thursday against Colorado Rocky Mountain School. “They’ve been a good program a lot lately. Now we know what we have to push ourselves to get to. That’s our bar.”
The Longhorns travel to Carbondale on Saturday to take on CRMS at 11 a.m. They’ll then visit 4A Glenwood Springs at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday.