Soccer: Scoreless draw for Longhorns, Rams | AspenTimes.com

Soccer: Scoreless draw for Longhorns, Rams

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jim Ryan/Courtesy photoLonghorns senior Willy Salamanca winds up for a shot as Roaring Fork's Enrique Abarca defends Thursday at Basalt High School.

BASALT – Both Basalt’s Brent Hayes and Roaring Fork’s Aaron Anderson agree that they’d like to see this level of competition in every game.

The two coaches sure would like to see a few more goals, however. Any goals, for that matter.

The valley rivals battled Thursday in a physical, well-played match that had the feel of a postseason bout. In the end, after 90 minutes overflowing with drama and a string of near misses, the Longhorns and Rams settled for a scoreless draw.

“To have a good, close game that has playoff intensity is good for both teams, … but this was frustrating,” Hayes said. “I don’t like to say we left goals out there because the other team has a big part in that, but I feel like we did. There’s no doubt about it. That’s the same bug that has bit us before.”

The frustration reached a fever pitch early Thursday for the Longhorns (5-3-1), whose three losses have come by 2-1 tallies. Thirty seconds into the opening half, a Roaring Fork defender lofted an ill-advised ball into the middle of the pitch that Basalt’s Willy Salamanca intercepted. The senior had a clear path to the goal, but he hesitated and didn’t get enough behind his shot to challenge Rams goalkeeper Eric Walton.

Hesitation plagued the Longhorns throughout the game. Despite Hayes’ constant pleadings to shoot, many promising runs stalled near the Rams net.

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“We just don’t take shots. I don’t know what it is,” Hayes said. “Half of what we do in practice is shooting drills, trying to give them confidence. It’s like we get too fancy inside the final third. We had so many chances in that second half and the space to set up good shots. We didn’t take advantage.”

Walton had plenty to do with that. Pressed into duty because the starting goalkeeper was unavailable, the senior backup shined. He made an athletic, sprawling save in the 44th minute to deny Ivan Loya, and then smothered a sharply struck liner off the foot of Jerson Orellana steps in front of the net in the 73rd minute.

“It was an unfortunate situation with our starting keeper, but I called (Walton) last night and told him he was starting,” Anderson said. “I told him that if he played well, this could be his spot. He said, ‘I got you, coach.'”

Walton confidently stood his ground in the final minute of regulation, forcing a left-footed shot from David Salguero to sail a few feet wide of the post.

It was Roaring Fork that produced the close call in overtime. After an untimely Longhorns penalty in the second extra frame, Rams senior Enrique Abarca launched the ensuing free kick past a wall of defenders, toward the far corner and out of Longhorns keeper Adrian Lujan’s reach. The ball whizzed a few feet past the net.

“There were chances we had that we probably could’ve converted, but I don’t think we really left anything out there,” Anderson said. “Basalt played great defense and held us out. That’s a credit to them.

“I love the effort, and we know we can play better. … We look at this as climbing a mountain, and we’re taking small steps to get to the top.”

Added Hayes, “This league has not been that strong before, but the last couple years it has picked up with Coal Ridge and Roaring Fork. These are the games that the Front Range teams play day in and day out, and regardless of the outcome, we’ll be better because of it.”

The Longhorns host Coal Ridge at 4 p.m. Tuesday.

jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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