Longhorns down VMS | AspenTimes.com

Longhorns down VMS

Jon Maletz

The Basalt soccer team managed to score only one goal in Saturday’s game against pesky Vail Mountain.They made it count. The Longhorns, on the strength of a goal from team leader Ryan Zubizarreta and stellar defense, blanked the Gore Rangers, 1-0. The two teams finished in a 1-1 tie during their previous contest. “They gave us trouble, and they beat Aspen last week,” Basalt coach John McDermott said of Vail Mountain, who outlasted the Skiers, 3-2, in double overtime last Saturday. “They really can build themselves up to play well. On any given day in this league, any team can lose.”Basalt (8-3-1, 7-2-1) scored its lone goal midway through the second half. Sophomore Austin Johnson dribbled the ball up the side of the field, eager to play a pass. Zubizarreta, who was moved up to the front line for the game, faded toward the middle of the field and received Johnson’s well-timed pass. The senior captain didn’t miss from close range.The Longhorns controlled the ball for much of the game, and were stingy on defense. VMS managed to fire just one shot on Basalt goalkeeper Reto Luzi.”Reto wasn’t challenged much in this game,” McDermott said. “I think he got dirtier during practice than in the game.”Basalt’s win gave Aspen (10-2 overall, 8-1 3A Western Slope) the outright 3A Western Slope lead. The Skiers, who beat Paonia Saturday and stopped in Basalt on their way home to watch the Longhorns’ win, are now the only single-loss team in the conference. They control their own destiny with three games left.Aspen 9, Paonia 3Sure, Basalt’s win gave Aspen reason to rejoice. But there was even better news for the Skiers Saturday.Stephen Buzbee is on fire. The senior forward, who on Tuesday led Aspen with two goals in a victory over the Longhorns, scored five goals in a 9-3 win over Paonia.”Every one of his goals was a class goal,” Aspen head coach Junior Sutherland said. “He’s got a hunger right now. A year ago, he might have panicked in those situations, but now he’s composed and is picking his spots.”And picking apart defenses. Buzbee, the 2005 3A Western Slope co-MVP, has scored nine goals in Aspen’s last four games. Saturday, he scored two of his team’s first three goals as the Skiers jumped out to a 3-0 lead after just 12 minutes. Aspen led, 6-1, at the half and cruised to victory.The wide margin allowed the Skiers to rest some of their key players for the stretch run. Senior goalkeeper Andy Conarroe, who is nursing an ailing shoulder, was replaced by sophomore Alex Owen. Sophomore Baker Boyd, bothered by a foot injury, was pulled after the first half. Senior Matt Cooper was forced to sit out after receiving a red card Tuesday – well-timed, Sutherland said, considering Cooper’s also been playing hurt.”We had a fantastic week. We worked hard and played through the pain,” Sutherland said. “These guys have the desire. They really want to make something of this year. And now, we control our own destiny.”I told these guys that if you work hard, hard work pays off. Now, we have to take it one game at a time and maintain our focus. If we slip up just one game, we’re back to square one.” Notes: The Longhorns, who are preparing for a playoff run, will be without Kyle Wood. Wood collided with an Aspen defender Tuesday and broke his femur.”The Aspen coach and players wish him a speedy recovery,” Sutherland said.Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com