3A Soccer playoffs: Second-half spurt lifts Basalt over Telluride
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. – The Longhorns thrived in their rare role as underdog.
No. 21 Basalt, participating in a 3A playoff opener on the road for the first time in recent memory, broke a scoreless tie with a goal in the 65th minute against No. 12 Telluride on Thursday. It tacked on one more goal some five minutes later and hung on for a 2-0 victory, securing a berth in Saturday’s second round.
The match, originally slated for Wednesday in Telluride but postponed because of inclement weather, was played at Long Park in Grand Junction.
“We were extremely thankful for the weather,” said Longhorns head coach Makenzie Eshelman, whose ailing squad relished an extra day of rest.
“We definitely missed a lot of good opportunities, even early in the second half. They were tough and scrappy and didn’t give us any time on the ball. We had to make some adjustments at halftime.”
Eshelman said she tried to slow her squad down. Instead of trying to push the ball forward at every opportunity, she implored her players to settle in defensively and look to generate some scoring chances off well-placed clears.
The plan worked. With about 15 minutes to play, Alex Dewind fielded a drop pass from a teammate, created some space well outside the 18, fired a powerful shot and clipped the net.
“She hit the side of the net. It was sweet,” Eshelman remarked.
Annette Stenstadvold put the match out of reach about five minutes later. Julia Kapustka dribbled up the right side of the pitch, then lofted a cross to Ginevra Moore, who dribbled past three Miners defenders before feeding Stenstadvold for an easy score.
Telluride now has been ousted by Western Slope opponents in each of its last two playoff openers; Aspen topped the Miners, 1-0, last spring.
Next up for the Longhorns is a trip to Lafayette on Saturday to take on familiar foe Peak to Peak. The fifth-seeded Pumas, who topped Aspen on Wednesday, knocked Basalt out of last year’s tournament with a 3-2 win in the Round of 16.
“I’ll definitely be contacting [Skiers head coach] John Gillies tomorrow,” Eshelman said. “I think that the girls who played them last year remember feeling really good about the game. They won’t be as wide eyed or scared against a Denver team. We’re all really excited.”
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