Youth movement continues at AHS | AspenTimes.com

Youth movement continues at AHS

Nate Peterson

Aspen High junior defender Nicky Anastas, left, knocks the ball from Basalt junior Trevor Brown during a scrimmage at Aspen High School last Tuesday. (Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times)

The Aspen boys soccer team is off this week because of experimental education. As for the experiment that began last fall, when head coach Grant Sutherland played nine sophomores, preliminary indications so far this fall suggest that Aspen will be much improved in 2005.With a year of varsity experience in the books, the junior-led Skiers (2-1) opened the season Sept. 2 with a 5-0 loss against defending 3A state champion Salida. The Skiers then bounced back Saturday to beat Paonia, 5-2, and Fort Morgan, 4-1. Sutherland said the three games in two days, especially the loss to Salida, provided ample opportunity for him to diagnose where his team needs to improve once it returns from its week-long break.”We made some mistakes, which gave [Salida] opportunities, and they capitalized,” Sutherland said. “We got behind early, but I was pleased with the way we played.They’re the defending state champions, so you can take something away from that game. It was nice to see nine goals [scored] in two games after that loss.”

Five of those goals came from the foot of junior forward Stephen Buzbee. After turning in a sublime sophomore season, Buzbee expects big things from himself and his teammates this season. The Skiers lost three one-point games in 3A Western Slope play last season to finish 2-7-1 in league and 5-8-2 overall. Had the Skiers won even one or two of those games, they likely would have made the playoffs.”We have pretty high expectations,” Buzbee said last week. “I think we have a pretty good team, a lot better than last year’s. We’re gonna work hard and play as hard as we can. We’re a little bit more of a contender this year than we have been. We just need to talk a lot more and stay composed and play as a team.”The one surprise thus far this season has been freshman Baker Boyd, who netted two goals in the win against Fort Morgan. Sutherland told Boyd to settle down after the first two games, sensing the freshman’s frustration at being shut out on a number of good scoring chances. “I just told him the harder you try, the harder it’s going to be score,” Sutherland said. “If you just calm l down and get into the flow of the game, it will be a lot easier.”Junior Eric Sciarrone also found his scoring touch on Saturday, adding two goals and an assist in the win over Paonia.

While Sutherland is excited about the youth of his team, and the prospect of starting nine seniors next fall, he isn’t content to miss the playoffs again.Neither are the four seniors on this year’s team, including starters D.J., Furth, Henry Cote and Jamie Bernard. The fourth senior, Fred Bernard, will split time in goal with junior Andy Conarroe. “We want to make the playoffs for sure and have a good run in the playoffs,” Sutherland said. “I think we’ll be very competitive this year. I think we’ve got a little bit of speed up front with Stephen Buzbee. And Baker, I think when he gets a little experience, he’ll be a good player.”Sutherland also raves about his two midfielders, juniors Nicky Anastas and Ryder Fyrwald.”They’re two who are real strong,” he said. The other juniors who will see playing time this fall are Cooks Braun, Bo Gallagher, Ryan Chaloupka and Matt Cooper. Sophomores Cody Baker and Wylie Maple will add depth.

Buzbee said the strength of the team is its chemistry. The class of juniors has been playing together for the past six years, he said, and mixed together well last season with the four then-juniors who are now the team’s seniors. Another tried-and-true sports cliché: Buzbee said he and his teammates need to focus on each game individually if they are to make it to playoffs.”But,” he said “you always have those games like Basalt which you look forward to.”The Longhorns won, 2-0, in a preseason scrimmage at Aspen – a much-improved result for the Skiers after getting blown out last year in both meetings against the ‘Horns. Combined, Aspen was outscored, 12-1, in 160 minutes of action against its downvalley rival.For now, however, the focus is on Colorado Rocky Mountain School. The Skiers host the Oysters at 4 p.m. Thursday.”It’s hard to go to [experimental education] during the middle of the season,” Sutherland said. “But, when the full squad gets back, I think we’ll be ready to go.”Nate Peterson can be reached at npeterson@aspentimes.com