Skiers soccer moving on | AspenTimes.com

Skiers soccer moving on

Jon Maletz

Stephen Buzbee races for the ball against a Colorado Springs Christian defender Tuesday night under the lights at Aspen High School. The Skiers beat the Lions, 6-3, to advance to the 3A state quarterfinals. (Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times)

Aspen midfielder Nicky Anastas took the roar out the of Lions.In the second half of the Skiers’ 3A state playoff opener against Colorado Springs Christian, the senior took charge. He fired a pass on a corner kick that was finished by sophomore Baker Boyd in the 69th minute. Anastas, who assisted on two scores in the first half, then got loose in the open field three minutes later and scored from 20 yards out, stretching the lead to three. Fifth-seeded Aspen (14-2 overall) held the No. 12 Lions scoreless for the game’s final 40 minutes and went on to win, 6-3.The good news for the Skiers was just beginning. After the win they received word that No. 4 Alexander Dawson was upset by No. 13 Classical Academy, 2-1, in Lafayette. The game’s deciding goal was scored on a penalty kick, as reported by Boulder’s Daily Camera. As a result, Aspen will host a quarterfinal match this weekend – a measure of redemption for a team that thought it was slighted by the state selection committee.”We played a great second half. Everyone ran, fought and played their hearts out,” Aspen head coach Junior Sutherland said. “We were only meant to go to the quarterfinals [according to the seedings], so we’re going to enjoy it.

“[Alexander Dawson’s] loss works out great for us.”Aspen looked poised to make a statement in the game’s first minutes. After two scoring chances went awry in the game’s first six minutes – Eric Sciarrone’s header sailed just wide and a shot by senior Stephen Buzbee rang off the right post – Anastas connected with senior Matt Cooper in the seventh minute. Cooper slid behind the defense following a botched corner kick, and Anastas found Cooper, lobbing a pass over a group of Lions defenders. Cooper grounded the ball past C.S. Christian goalkeeper Barry Pompea.Two minutes later, Aspen extended its lead. Boyd passed wide to Sciarrone who lofted a crossing pass to junior Tyler Moore. Moore headed the ball into the net.The Lions were undaunted. Senior forward Jacob Marchesani knifed through the Aspen defense with ease and twice found the net during the next 20 minutes to tie the game.”He didn’t score 21 goals in 3A for nothing,” Sutherland said. “We started off great, but we let them back in.”Aspen struck again on a free kick in the 36th minute. Anastas took the kick, and passed to the near post. Senior Ryder Fyrwald took the ball out of the air, launching a shot to the top right corner of the net.

“It looks very easy, but hitting the ball out of the air is one of the most difficult things,” Anastas said. “They didn’t see Ryder go to the front post, and I chipped it over the wall. Ryder finished perfectly.”We faced adversity and had a few lapses on defense, but we kept fighting. That’s a good sign.”C.S. Christian’s defense lapsed two minutes later. Aspen senior Stephen Buzbee made them pay when he took on a defender and finished from right of the net.The Lions, facing their second two-goal deficit of the half, answered no more than 40 seconds later. Senior midfielder David Jacobson weaved in between the Skiers defense, juked Fyrwald with some strong ball-handling, then went low to beat Aspen keeper Andy Conarroe.Sutherland, whose team led by just one at intermission, challenged his defense.”We kind of challenged ourselves, too,” Fyrwald said. “We wanted this game more than anything.”

The Skiers defense shadowed Marchesani and the other Lions forwards and held the 2001 state champions without a goal for the entire second half. Anastas made certain the game’s outcome was no longer in doubt. He found Boyd near the back post on a corner kick in the 69th minute; Boyd’s strong, well-placed shot gave Pompea no chance for a save.Anastas later controlled a loose ball near midfield, dribbled through the Lions defense and launched a shot once he saw an opening. The ball settled into the top right corner of the net. “The forwards split and the defender had to make a decision which way to go,” Anastas said. “I had some space, so I took a chance.”It paid off for the Skiers, who lost their 2005 state opener to Colorado Academy.”We’ve never had the chance to prove we are the caliber for states,” Fyrwald said. “This game shows that we are here, and that we are good enough.” Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com