Second-half surge lifts Aspen soccer | AspenTimes.com

Second-half surge lifts Aspen soccer

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jim Ryan/Special to The Aspen TimesAspen's Erick Perez and Coal Ridge's Luis Bucio battle for possession Tuesday at Aspen High School.

ASPEN – Aspen forward Alex Ferreira’s touches were scarce during the first 45-plus minutes of Tuesday’s home soccer opener against Coal Ridge.

When he finally spotted some daylight early in the second half, the sophomore made a play – and sparked a run that helped the Skiers pull away on a soggy afternoon at Aspen High. Ferreira slipped a shot past Titans goalkeeper Tyler Guettler in the 47th minute, then assisted on two other goals as Aspen rolled to a 3-0 victory – its second in three matches this season.

“In the first half, we were definitely playing the ball but Alex wasn’t really involved,” Skiers head coach Junior Sutherland said. “Then he started to play, and that’s what sparked us. … He gets everybody involved.”

First, Ferreira took it upon himself to break a scoreless tie. He found some rare space in which to maneuver in the 47th minute and turned and fired a strong shot on net from 20 yards out; Guettler bent to corral the ball, but it took an awkward bounce and appeared to slip through the keeper’s hands.

“The youth of the team really showed then,” Titans head coach Brian Blair said. “We easily could’ve said ‘We’ve got [33] minutes left. No big deal.’ Instead, we were on each other’s case, were frustrated and stopped focusing on what would make us successful. … We gave up that goal and never really got our rhythm back.”

Aspen, meanwhile, seized the momentum. About 10 minutes after his scoring strike, Ferreira dribbled up the near sideline and lofted a perfect cross into the box; Kyler Sciarrone headed the ball home, stretching the lead to two.

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“Ky and Alex together, they’re best friends. For some reason, when one plays [well] the other does,” Sutherland said. “That first one was a lucky goal. The second was a class goal, and the third was opportunistic, a center forward being in the right place at the right time and putting it through.”

Freshman John Heaphey put this game out of reach with about three minutes to play. Ferreira again initiated the action, lofting a towering shot on net that Guettler mishandled; Heaphey, parked near the goal line, booted the ball into the back of the net.

“They played the field and conditions better. The ball stuck to their feet and they were able to combine passes,” Blair said. “We’d get two or three passes going, and then the ball would get touched a little hard and throw us off. That made their chances a little more successful than ours.

“It’s just growing pains. I wish I had timeouts, a million more practices. We’ll learn from this and try and be better Thursday.”

Coal Ridge is slated to host Basalt on Thursday. Aspen, which had three freshmen and three sophomores in Tuesday’s starting lineup, next takes the field Saturday in Hotchkiss.

“We want to keep this momentum going and keep getting better every game, week in and week out,” Sutherland said. “They played with pride and passion today, and that’s what it takes.”

Jesse Beetham fired a 78 to both earn medalist honors and propel Aspen to a first-place finish during Tuesday’s rain-soaked tournament at Vail Golf Club.

Ryan Smith carded 79 and Coulter Young 80 for the Skiers, who have won seven of eight tournaments this season.

Ryan Fahey, ninth on the Skiers’ depth chart, tied Beetham with 78. His score did not count toward the team total, however, because he was playing with Aspen’s second team.

jmaletz@aspentimes.com