Soccer: Aspen tops VMS at Wagner Park | AspenTimes.com

Soccer: Aspen tops VMS at Wagner Park

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jon Maletz/The Aspen TimesFans crowd the sidelines for Saturday's homecoming soccer game at Wagner Park.

ASPEN – Colter Robinson hadn’t played soccer at Wagner Park since he was a seventh-grader.

“It’s awesome to be back,” the Aspen High senior said Saturday, flashing a wide grin in the fading sunlight.

Prep sports returned to the venerable downtown Aspen pitch for what is believed to be the first time since 1979. It was worth the wait.

The sidelines were packed, the atmosphere was spirited, and the Skiers impressed against Region 3 foe Vail Mountain School. Aspen overcame an early deficit with three goals and hung on for a 3-2 victory.

“It got a little crazy – it was like being at a Rangers-Celtic game,” joked Skiers head coach Junior Sutherland, referencing the heated rivalry between two Glasgow, Scotland, teams.

Added Robinson, “They wanted to do something big for homecoming, and they knew we all loved playing here. They thought we could be the center of attention.”

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Aspen (6-5-2 overall, 2-2 conference) embraced the unique opportunity – after an inopportune start.

A Gore Rangers player pounced on a failed clear in the 14th minute, slipped past a defender and beat Skiers goalkeeper Maret Schwab.

About 20 minutes later, Robinson and Eduardo Alvarado hooked up for a

highlight-reel-caliber equalizer.

“I got it on the sideline, and I knew (Alvarado) was coming in hot, so I figured I’d just play it on the ground to the middle, he’d get a foot on it and something good would happen,” Robinson said.

He was right. With an outstretched foot, Alvarado flicked the ball just beyond the reach of onrushing VMS goalkeeper William Sterett and into the net.

Alvarado helped Aspen pull ahead in the waning seconds of the half. He sprinted up the near sideline, stopped abruptly to shed a defender, then drove directly to the net before being tackled from behind, drawing a whistle. Kyler Sciarrone converted the ensuing penalty kick.

“Homecoming is tough. There’s too much going through your head the whole week, but they battled hard,” Sutherland said. “We dominated the game.”

While the Skiers controlled possession for most of the second half, the Gore Rangers provided quite a scare in about the 60th minute with a booming kick that deflected off the crossbar.

John Heaphey provided some insurance in the final minutes, slipping through a host of defenders to gain possession in front of the net, then clipping the bottom right corner with a well-struck liner. The effort drew cheers from a crowd that continually swelled as curious passers-by filtered out of the pedestrian malls and onto the sidelines.

“I loved it,” Robinson said of the ambiance. “Everybody really got into it at the end of the game. It encouraged us to keep going. It was motivating for sure.”

VMS found the net once more but could pull no closer.

Aspen players and fans flooded the pitch soon after to celebrate.

“This was fun,” Sutherland said. “I want to thank the city for allowing us to play here and thank the people who came and watched the guys and supported them.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com