Soccer: Palisade ends season for Aspen boys | AspenTimes.com

Soccer: Palisade ends season for Aspen boys

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

Aspen's Guillermo Flores carries the ball as teammate Niko Wehse (8) heads upfield during Thursday's soccer match against Palisade at Aspen School District Stadium.

The season came to frustrating end for the Aspen High School boys soccer team Tuesday afternoon.

The Skiers, closing the year with a nonconference match against visiting Palisade, outshot the Bulldogs by a ratio 3-1 with 18 total shots.

But Palisade won the game 1-nil at Aspen School District Stadium with a lone, second-half goal.

"I think that game typified how our season's gone," Aspen head coach Dave Francis said. "The hardest thing is scoring goals. Everything else on the field has been great this year. But that one final piece … we've struggled this year. It showed again today, unfortunately."

He said the Skiers did a great job creating shot opportunities in the final match of the year against Class 4A Palisade.

"We created chances. We played some really good soccer," Francis said. "But their goalie was a very good goalie."

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He said the Palisade players kept gaining momentum as the scoreless game moved deep into the second half.

"(The Bulldogs) never gave up, they just kept battling away, and they got their reward," Francis said. "We couldn't find ours."

The reward for Palisade came after an Aspen foul with 17 minutes to play when the Bulldogs converted a set piece at the Aspen end.

With a free kick from 25 yards out on the right side, Palisade's Giovanni Padova ripped the kick toward the goal where it was blocked momentarily by the Aspen keeper only to rebound to Palisade's Bryan Franco-Perez, who tapped in the only goal of the match.

The score propelled Palisade, a Class 4A team, to only its second win of the season, The Bulldogs finished the year 2-12-0 overall.

Aspen closed its season at 6-8-1 overall; the Skiers were 4-4-0 in the 3A Western Slope League.

The Skiers made a strong bid to give their seniors a win on senior day with a barrage of early shots against the Bulldogs.

Aspen's Jorge Esparza, one of 12 AHS seniors honored Tuesday, offered an early shot, as did teammate Francisco Pineda. David Avila also provided an early spark for the Skiers.

Guillermo Flores had another first-half scoring chance for the Skiers, who were turned back by Palisade keeper Rogelio Payan.

After a scoreless halftime tie, Aspen attacked early in the second half with shots from Andrew Tierney, Harry Kahn and Esparza.

But Palisade countered with its long-ball counter-offensive, eventually drawing the Aspen foul that produced the game-winning goal.

"For me, it's disheartening that they didn't get more out of it than they did," Francis said of the Skiers. "I feel like our results didn't really show the soccer we played. It's frustrating, disappointing for them. It's such a great group of guys. Great group of seniors."

Aspen's seniors included Tierney, Pineda, Esparza, Zac Storm, Oscar Solis, Niko Wehse, Erik Gagen, Miguel Diaz, Adam Harrison, Nic Vitari, Ilex Cherry and Eric Vargas.

dstrode@aspentimes.com