AHS soccer eager to kick off | AspenTimes.com

AHS soccer eager to kick off

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Nikko Wehse and the Aspen High School boys soccer team is charging into the new season. The Skiers will open the season at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Basalt.
Aspen Times file photo |

The Aspen High School boys soccer team is carrying momentum into the new season.

Fresh from a progression that led to a playoff victory last season, the Skiers are eager to start the 2015 season, according to head coach Dave Francis.

“The practices have been great, and the turnout has been great,” Francis said, with a recent high of 56 players out this season for boys soccer.

That’s nearly double the turnout of 34 players in Francis’ first year heading the program at Aspen High School.

He said the turnout of players enabled the Skiers to add coaches to work with the students.

A core group of players return from last year’s state playoff team, he said.

“We lost a fair chunk of seniors from last year,” Francis said, “but the core group has been together in the midfield.

The Skiers will take their first test of the season with a 4 p.m. match Tuesday at Basalt High School.

“It will be a good early test,” Francis said of the non-conference match. “I’m excited to see what Basalt has this year. They had some young players last year; I expect them to do well (in the league).”

Francis said the Aspen schedule is a bit unusual this year, with a heavy dose of road games early and then a number of key home games late.

“We do have a lot of away games to start,” Francis said. “But a lot of our conference games will be at home.”

That includes key late conference matches against Basalt, Roaring Fork and Coal Ridge.

“Last year, we played all of those away,” Francis said, adding that the Skiers hope to take advantage of their home turf in a balanced and tough Western Slope League.

“It’s a matter of how (the 2015 players) take the lead this year,” Francis said. “Our players have matured physically and mentally.”

He said the progression of the junior varsity players to this year’s varsity squad has been fun to watch.

“We’ve had some great dedication this season,” Francis said. “I think our core midfield will be strong.”

He mentioned returning starter Harry Kahn, a junior, along with Nikko Wehse and Erik Gagen.

On the right wing, Guillermo Flores will hold court.

Jorge Esparza will be in the center midfield.

Francis said the Skiers want to take the program one step further this year.

“We want to take everything one step further,” he said, targeting a higher conference finish this season.

“Our program benefits from a very good club program here in Aspen,” Francis said. “The club has been a huge influence.”

The Aspen boys soccer team will hit the road again next week with a match in Carbondale on Sept. 8. against Roaring Fork.

The AHS boys will travel to Craig to play Moffat County on Sept. 9.

Francis and the Skiers will play at Jefferson Academy Sept. 12.

dstrode@aspentimes.com


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