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Time runs out on Skiers

Dale Strode

CARBONDALE – Time – and snow – ran out on the Aspen Skiers Tuesday afternoon.

The Aspen High School girls soccer team, playing shorthanded, put up a spirited and snowy challenge before falling to Lutheran 4-2 in the 3A soccer Regionals.

The game originally was scheduled for Aspen, but the spring storm soaked that plan, sending the game to the River Valley Ranch soccer field in Carbondale.

Still the players had to endure a veritable blizzard that forced a stoppage of play for 30 minutes in the second half.

Visiting Lutheran had just taken a tenuous 2-1 lead on a corner kick that caromed into the Aspen net off a pair of AHS defenders. Then the spring snow squall hit with a fury, driving flakes horizontally the length of the soccer field.

When visibility dropped to near zero, the referee delayed the playoff match.

When the squall cleared 45 minutes later, Lutheran seized the momentum when sophomore Brooke Crandall collected a through pass and broke clear past the Skiers defense.

She found the back of the net for a 3-1 Lutheran lead with 22 minutes to play in the match.

But the Skiers answered with a key score to cut the led to 3-2 with just 10 minutes remaining.

AHS senior Kelli Dangler, moved up front in an offensive realignment, blasted a shot at the Lutheran keeper. The ball bounced off her and Dangler regained possession and fired a second shot, this time finding the net.

However, Lutheran put the match out of reach just a few minutes later when Crandall collected an errant Aspen clearing pass deep in AHS territory. She scored her third goal of the match for the final 4-2 margin. She was credited for the earlier Lutheran goal, on the corner kick early in the second half.

The Skiers, who played without injured standouts Ellen Falender and Courtney Brinkerhoff, fell behind 1-0 early in the contest.

In fact, just seconds into play Allison Morgan scored for Lutheran off an assist from Alexa Koczman.

But the Skiers continued to force the action, with Ashley White picking up the tying goal on an Aspen counterattack down the left side. She lofted her shot up and over the Lutheran keeper to make the score 1-1.

The Skiers continued to threaten with shots up front from Lacee Patterson, among others. At midfield and in the back, the AHS defense countered the more physical Lights with strong play from Whitney Gordon, Natalie Soonthornswad, Abby Norton and host of other Skiers.

Goalkeeper Kate Linehan added a number of spectacular saves to keep the Skiers close through the 3A Regional playoff.

The loss ended Aspen’s run in the state soccer playoffs. The Skiers ended the season 9-5-1.

Lutheran, 10-4-0, will move into the round of 16 in the 3A soccer playoffs on Saturday.

Above: Defenders from Lutheran form a wall to block a shot from the Aspen Skiers during Tuesday’s Regional playoff game at River Valley Ranch field in Carbondale. Michael Brands photo.


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