Aspen blows two-goal lead vs. Paonia
Aspen collapsed in the second half and Paonia, a first-year team that includes players from Hotchkiss and Cedaredge, climbed from a two-goal deficit in the first to a 4-2 win after 80 minutes.
“You wouldn’t have thought they were the same guys in the second half,” said John Gillies, the Aspen coach along with Grant “Junior” Sutherland. “They thought they’d won it; they played as though the game was already over.
“It’s like a soap opera ? it depends what kind of mood they’re in.”
The frustrating loss came five days after Aspen’s biggest win of the season, a 3-1 upset of Colorado Springs’ St. Mary’s, a perennial Front Range power.
Aspen’s William Amaya scored on a penalty kick in the first half, and freshman Matt Fox, making his varsity debut, made it 2-0 on a 30-yard left-footed shot, Gillies said.
But Aspen’s 2-0 lead at the break evaporated in the second half.
“The result’s not a reflection of how good they looked in the first half,” Gillies said. “They looked sexy. But in the second half, it was the typical Aspen saga ? errors, the ball not getting through to the forwards, things compounding.
“And by the time Paonia equalized, they’d lost it mentally. Their heads dropped. They couldn’t believe that they got beat, but they just never got back into the game.”
With the non-league loss, Aspen dropped to 3-5 overall. Aspen remains at 1-3 in Class 3A Western Slope League play.
“It’s an Aspen trait ? they’re too nice,” Gillies said. “It’s so frustrating.”
Aspen returns to the pitch Saturday at home vs. the Colorado Rocky Mountain School of Carbondale. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. at the AHS field.
“Hopefully we can look at this like a kick in the teeth. These kids haven’t been embarrassed like this on their home ground. They know what they’re capable of; it’s a mental thing.”
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