4A soccer power Battle Mountain blanks Basalt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BASALT – Brent Hayes was thrilled with Basalt’s effort Saturday in its toughest test of the season – even if it didn’t quite pass.
Save for a lackluster start in which they surrendered two goals to undefeated Battle Mountain, the second-ranked squad in The Denver Post’s latest 4A soccer poll, the undermanned Longhorns hung with the high-powered Huskies. Basalt could not capitalize on its few scoring chances, however, and surrendered a score in the game’s final minute en route to a 3-0 loss on a dreary, cool day in the midvalley.
“We knew we were coming in against one of the top teams in 4A that has scored something like (78) goals compared to five against. We knew it was going to be a tough, tough game,” Hayes said. “They’ve been pretty far ahead of all their opponents, so for us to give them a run bodes well for us.
“They beat us, no doubt, but we hung in there – probably better than they expected. I’m happy with that.”
Battle Mountain seized control of this bout about midway through the opening half. Alex Trujillo came away with the ball in a crowded box following a free kick and booted a shot past Longhorns goalkeeper Adrian Lujan.
Soon after, Heivan Garcia clipped the net with a powerful blast for his first of two scores.
“That second one was a great breakaway and a great shot – a super-good shot,” Hayes said. “In the first half, I think we were really intimidated. It took us a while to realize we could play with them. Then, we were right there with them and had some real nice chances. We went back to not being able to finish, but we started passing a lot better.”
The Basalt offense likely was hampered by the absence of two starters because of eligibility issues. Also, starting striker Juan Abrego was limited after severely spraining his ankle at the end of Friday’s practice.
Late in the second half, Elmer Rodriguez also was seen limping to the sideline.
“That’s the way the ball bounces sometimes, being undermanned against a tough opponent,” Hayes said. “Juan should be OK, but he wasn’t even at a quarter of his speed. He’s got an amazing shot with his right foot, and he couldn’t even walk on that foot well today.”
The Huskies (14-0) capped a physical and evenly played final half with a late score. They utilized quick passing to speed up the pitch, then Garcia launched a shot from just outside the box that beat Lujan.
“The saddest thing was watching that last goal go in, but even playing 3-0 with a team of that caliber is a great result,” Hayes said. “I know we can play with anybody in 3A, and if we take anything away from this, I hope it’s confidence.
“Playing teams of this size is huge for us because we’re such a small team. Every team from the Front Range is big, and playing that and understanding we can’t take the ball over the middle every time because they’ll get a head on it is important. … This is the type of team we’ll have to beat to go far.”
The Longhorns, now 7-4-1 overall and 3-1-1 in 3A Region 3 play, wrap up the regular season with conference games at Colorado Rocky Mountain School on Tuesday and at home against Vail Mountain School on Thursday.
“It’s tough closing out the schedule against two league teams that both have taken it to us before,” Hayes said. “I know we can play, but we’re going to need to get healthy. I’ll hope for the best.”
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