Aspen boys soccer beats heat, Grand Valley
The Aspen Times
The Aspen High School boy soccer team is hot. In more ways than one.
The Skiers, under new head coach Dave Francis, opened the season with a sweltering 3-1 victory over Grand Valley on Thursday evening in Parachute.
Battling temperatures in the mid-90s, the Skiers scored two second-half goals in the inaugural victory.
“It was a good start to the season … a good confidence-booster,” Francis said, adding that the Skiers started slowly in the afternoon heat.
“We’ve got some players who have come back to soccer after a few years, and this is my first time working with these players,” he said.
“We put on a lot of pressure in the early going, but we were not finishing,” he said.
But the first of three Joel Brice goals helped settle the Skiers. His first goal came on a pass from John Heaphey.
“We had a few really good moments. But we had some nerves early,” Francis said. “Once we settled down, we tried to play it right.”
The Skiers managed 15 shots on goal.
Nikko Wehse provided defense in front of Aspen keeper Dante Lizotte.
Senior Max Marolt added a key defensive play to stop another potential Grand Valley goal.
Aspen also pushed the offense with freshman Dylan Link pushing the ball up the left side to produce shots by Eric Vargas and Brice.
Connor Pierce and Jorge Esparza added to the Aspen defense in the opener with Griffin Stevens and Garret McNichol manning the midfield.
Brice’s final goal came on a corner kick.
The Skiers also endured a penalty kick from Grand Valley to protect their first win of 2013.
Lizotte was credited with five saves.
“He made a couple of good plays, including a 1-on-1 save in the seconds half. That was a very nice save,” Francis said.
The Skiers, who lost seven seniors from last year’s team, will jump back into match play today with an 11 a.m. contest at Delta.
Stephen Buzbee and Ryan Bennet are assistant coaches for the Skiers this season.
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A confident group early in the season, the Aspen High School boys soccer team lost its footing midway through and could have seen its playoff aspirations slip away. But the Skiers came together in a way they hadn’t in many years.