Aspen blanks Ridgway in soccer playoff opener |

Aspen blanks Ridgway in soccer playoff opener

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

RIDGWAY, Colo. ” The obstacles get much more daunt­ing from here for the Aspen boys soccer team. For now, head coach Junior Sutherland is content to savor another postseason victory.

After narrowly missing out on a berth last season, the Skiers are back in the playoffs and back in the winner’s circle. No. 17 Aspen scored in both the first and second halves against a stingy Ridgway defense and held the 16th-seeded Demons scoreless en route to a 2­0 opening-round victory.

Next up for Aspen (10-5-1) in Satur­day’s round of 16 is a matchup with 3A’s top seed, Colorado Springs Christian. The Lions cruised to a 10-0 victory over No. 32 Lookout Academy later Tuesday to improve to 16-0.

“It’s going to be a tough game ” there’s a reason they’ve scored 85 goals,” Sutherland said. “It’ll be one of those games where a No. 1 seed goes against No. 17, so we’ll have nothing to lose. We’ll go down there and give it our best shot.”

His team did just that Tuesday against a Ridgway squad that had surrendered just nine goals during a regular season in which it won the Region 5 champi­onship. Three players teamed up to give Aspen the lead midway through the first half. Matt Goldstein pushed the ball up field to forward Kyle Lusk who crossed the ball to the left side. Jesus Meza corralled the pass and beat the Demons’ goalkeeper.

Lusk then scored for the second time in as many games when, with 15 minutes to play, he fielded a pass from Ben Armstrong and found the net from 20 yards out.

Goalkeeper Alex Owen and the Skiers defense helped preserve the team’s third shutout in the last four games ” all victories.

“It was a game we deserved to win,” Sutherland said. “It’s always tough to sit in a bus for four hours then get off and play soccer and the field was rough to play on. … It had a big slope to it and the grass was long. “Overall, it was a good result.”

The postseason victory is the pro­gram’s first since 2006, when the then fifth-seeded Skiers earned a berth in the state semifinals before falling to ninth-ranked Denver Christian.

“For about 14 guys this was their first playoff game,” Sutherland said. ” They were nervous at the start, but they got through it and handled it well. It was a good performance.”

Aspen is hoping for something similar Saturday when the Skiers vis­it Colorado Springs Christian to vie for a spot in the quarterfinals.

Sutherland believes his team will be up for the challenge.

“If we lose, that’s expected, but if we win it’s a great upset,” he said. “We’re going to have to work hard to get any result at all.”

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