Young Basalt soccer team opens season Tuesday against Moffat | AspenTimes.com

Young Basalt soccer team opens season Tuesday against Moffat

Jose Zavala knows he'll have to do his share of coaching for the Basalt High School boys soccer team this fall. The senior goalie is one of the few upperclassmen the Longhorns will have this season, and he is ready for the challenge of helping bring up the younger players.

"It's just a lot of young faces. I'm looking forward to that first game to see how we play as a team," Zavala said. "I like to see them grow up through the season. Since they are such a young team and I'll be leaving next year, I think they'll continue to grow and hopefully when they are seniors they'll grow up to be better than we are."

Basalt opens its season on Tuesday with a 4 p.m. home game against Moffat County. BHS coach Brent Hayes said the team could have as many as eight sophomores in the starting lineup after it lost a talented senior class from 2016, as well as a handful of other players who did not return to the team this year.

"It's going to be a very, very young, somewhat inexperienced team," Hayes said. "I don't want to call it a rebuilding year because seasons always change in strange and mysterious ways, but it certainly is not as clear cut as it's been in past years."

The Longhorns have long had a strong program and making the state tournament is nearly a guarantee each fall. In 2015, the team started 0-5 before an 8-0-2 stretch and a season-ending loss to Sheridan in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament. The 2016 season was even stronger, with Basalt going 11-6 overall and 6-3 in a difficult 3A Western Slope League, won by Delta.

As a No. 11 seed in last year's 3A state tournament, Basalt beat No. 22 seed Denver Christian 4-2 in the first round before losing a close tussle with No. 6 seed Jefferson Academy in the second round, 1-0. Jefferson Academy made the state final before losing to Kent Denver.

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Getting to that level again in 2017 will be easier said than done for Basalt with such a young roster.

"I think we'll still have a good season, but certainly a year that we are building for the next two seasons as well," Hayes said. "To win league is going to be a pretty tall order. You never know, but certainly to make it to state and to be one of those top 32 teams is certainly within our reach."

Hayes expects the league to once again come down to Delta and Coal Ridge this season, and hopes his Longhorns will be in the mix for the third or fourth spot.

Following Tuesday's season opener against Moffat, Basalt will play Friday and Saturday at the Sun Devil Tournament in Denver. They'll face Denver Christian once again in the first game before facing a to be determined opponent on Saturday.

Three-time defending state champion Kent Denver is hosting the tournament and could be the team Basalt faces on Saturday. BHS lost 5-2 at Kent Denver last season.

"They are not really used to what high school soccer is. So it's kind of hard to get that through their heads," Zavala said of his young teammates. "But at the end of this first week (of practice), they were really getting the hang of it. We are becoming more of a team."

After the weekend's tournament in Denver, Basalt's next game will be a Sept. 7 trip to Aspen. The Skiers open their season at home on Wednesday against Vail Mountain.

acolbert@aspentimes.com

2017 BHS soccer schedule

Tuesday vs. Moffat County

Friday at Sun Devil Tournament (Denver)

Saturday at Sun Devil Tournament (Denver)

Sept. 7 at Aspen

Sept. 11 vs. Roaring Fork

Sept. 16 vs. Vail Mountain

Sept. 23 at Roaring Fork

Sept. 26 at Moffat County

Sept. 30 at Grand Valley

Oct. 3 vs. Delta

Oct. 5 at Crested Butte

Oct. 7 vs. CRMS

Oct. 10 vs. Coal Ridge

Oct. 17 at Vail Mountain

Oct. 19 vs. Aspen