Skiers pounce on Paonia | AspenTimes.com

Skiers pounce on Paonia

Nate Peterson

Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times

Aspen boys soccer coach Junior Sutherland doesn’t want his team to get ahead of itself. So, after a 9-0 drubbing of hapless Paonia in the rain Saturday, Sutherland refused to answer questions about next weekend’s huge game at Basalt. Instead, Sutherland mentioned Tuesday’s game at Roaring Fork – a team that frustrated the Skiers on their home field on Sept. 7. The Skiers won that game 2-0, but only after a late second-half goal gave Aspen some insurance following a first half where the Skiers fired 25 shots but only netted one.”It’s one game at a time,” Sutherland said. “I don’t even know who we’re playing past Roaring Fork on Tuesday.”

OK, so Junior is good at bluffing. Still, there’s no denying that both the Skiers and the Longhorns -the defending 3A Western Slope champs – are aware of the importance of the first rivalry meeting of the season. The winner of the game takes the inside track to the league title, while the loser likely will have to play catch-up. Last year Basalt won both meetings en route to the league title, but lost nine starters in the off-season. To compare scores, the Longhorns pounded Paonia in their league opener, 9-1, and like the Skiers (3-0, 5-1 overall), have run roughshod over the rest of the competition in the league. A score from Basalt’s game at Colorado Rocky Mountain School was not available, but before the contest Basalt was 4-1 overall, 3-0 in league. Aspen senior Stephen Buzbee, who tallied three goals in the win over Paonia, was just as guarded as his coach.”It’s going to be a good game, but we’ve got to focus on Roaring Fork Tuesday, then we’ll look to Basalt,” he said. Against the Eagles, it looked like the Skiers’ varsity was playing a squad of freshman.

Skiers captain Nicky Anastas opened the scoring with the first of his three goals in the third minute. Anastas then assisted Aspen’s second goal to sophomore striker Baker Boyd two minutes later.Buzbee’s three goals all came after that – the first on an assist from Eric Sciarrone, the second on a perfect touch pass from Boyd. The third strike was unassisted.The second score was a highlight reel effort, as Boyd slid a pass ahead of a streaking Buzbee, who then out-raced a defender to tap the ball just outside the grasp of Paonia’s charging goalie.After the Skiers managed just one first-half goal in Thursday’s 6-0 win against Coal Ridge, Buzbee noted that it was important to start fast Saturday. There was no need for an impassioned half-time speech from Sutherland after the Skiers jumped out to a 6-0 lead at the break.

“They understood from the last game that they need to pick up their intensity from the start and they came out fired up and ready to play today,” Sutherland said. “If that first one goes in, it just brings up the confidence and they all start going in,” Buzbee added. “I think that when we get the first one, we play a lot more relaxed.”Anastas had Aspen’s first goal in the second half, and Tyler Moore and Sciarrone finished off the scoring with a goal apiece.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com

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