Longhorns sloppy, but prevail against Coal Ridge | AspenTimes.com

Longhorns sloppy, but prevail against Coal Ridge

Jon Maletz

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

The Longhorns offense swarmed the box and pummeled Coal Ridge keeper Fernando Alvarado with a flurry of shots from close range in the 10th minute of Tuesday’s game. One attempt ricocheted off the crossbar, then landed on the goal line. Alvarado cleared the ball, averting what looked like a certain scoring chance. “They’ll come. Just have patience,” Basalt coach John McDermott said as he paced the sideline.While the goals did come for Basalt (6-1 overall, 5-0 3A Western Slope), the second-half surge it is accustomed to did not materialize, largely due to a host of errant shots. Junior Ryan Mylott’s two goals helped Basalt best the Titans, 3-0.”It’s good to have another win, but we didn’t play our best,” Mylott said. “We were pushing the ball too much and not taking our time.”We weren’t expecting them to be much competition. We were totally caught off guard.”Coal Ridge, a first-year program that fell to Basalt, 6-1, in the their first meeting Sept. 9, showed more poise Tuesday, McDermott said. They maintained possession longer and were quick to challenge the Longhorns on defense.Basalt’s miscues near the net didn’t help its cause, either. Countless scoring chances were thwarted when open shots sailed high and wide of the Titans’ net. “You have to remember that this is a young team, and they get frustrated when they don’t score,” McDermott said.Junior Mike Eaton broke the scoreless tie in the 13th minute. Junior John Peckler dribbled the ball down low then passed toEaton in front of the net; Alvarado could not handle Eaton’s well-struck ball.Mylott tested Alvarado in the 28th minute with a fast-paced shot from 20 yards out; Alvarado got both gloves on the ball, but it trickled loose and rolled into the goal.Basalt went scoreless for the next 42 minutes. Ryan Zubizarreta, showcasing the ball skills that made him an all-conference selection in 2005, knifed through a host of Titans defenders, then fired a shot on goal. When it rolled harmlessly outside the left post, the senior clenched both hands in frustration.”The scores are not showing how well we’re playing,” Zubizarreta said. “We were getting plenty of chances, we just need to work on more opportune chances instead of firing from 30-40 yards out.”This was a tough match. It’s just what we needed.”For much of the second half, the two teams exchanged possession near midfield. All the momentum Basalt generated during the first 40 minutes dissipated. Skylar James, who replaced Alvarado at the half, had a pair of acrobatic saves to keep the Titans close.”It looked like [we] were a little bored out there,” McDermott said. “It’s hard to get up for games like this. They’re not going to play full-out all the time.”Mylott hit nylon in the 70th minute to stretch the lead. He came away with possession during a one-on-one battle and pushed the ball upfield. As he approached the net, Mylott slowed the ball at his feet and launched a shot from a sharp angle – it narrowly missed James’ sprawling arms.”Most of our players didn’t play up to their usual level, but we always have someone else to fill in the block,” McDermott said. “I think 75 percent of our players have scored this year.”The Longhorns need a united effort if they are to prevail when they host rival Aspen at 11 a.m. Saturday, McDermott said. They need more shots to find the net.”[Aspen] has put itself up on a pedestal and someone has to take it off,” he added. “These guys will be ready. They know what it takes.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com