Aspen High boys soccer knocks off Roaring Fork behind Ortiz goal

Aspen High School's Nico Barlozzini fights off a Roaring Fork player for possession of the ball on Wednesday on the AHS turf. The Skiers won the game, 1-0.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times |

The potential has been there all season for the Aspen High School boys soccer team, which entered the fall with internally high expectations. However, getting that potential to the forefront has been more difficult than expected.

Wednesday at home against Roaring Fork was a different story.

“We believed they were at this level. We were just really, really anxious to see if they’d pull it out on the field,” AHS coach Dave Francis said. “This is a game I knew these boys had. Getting them to put it all together, what a joy to watch.”

The Skiers walked off the turf Wednesday night with a 1-0 victory over the Rams in their only scheduled meeting of the regular season. From a record standpoint it was a noticeable upset, considering Aspen entered the contest 2-4-1 overall. Roaring Fork, now 7-2 overall, lost for the first time since a 2-1 defeat to Delta on Sept. 9, ending a stretch of five straight wins.

Aspen and Roaring Fork looked evenly matched on Wednesday, playing to a competitive scoreless draw into the second half.

The game changed in one moment, when junior forward Edgar Ortiz was delivered a promising ball, and he did the rest by knocking in a shot past the Roaring Fork goalkeeper with a touch under 19 minutes to play.

“What a great finish,” Francis said of Ortiz’s goal. “These guys have worked really hard on trying to get the whole game together. Without the play that happens with the midfielders and the defense, the forwards don’t have anything. We’ve really started to create some chances for those guys.”

Aspen’s defense, including goalie Jake Bassi, allowed few true opportunities for Roaring Fork’s offense to capitalize.

Aspen (3-4-1) now is 1-1-1 since returning from its experiential education week. The team played to a 1-1 draw with Vail Mountain on Saturday, and lost 3-1 at Middle Park on Sept. 21.

Next, the Skiers will host Moffat County (1-7) at 11 a.m. on Saturday.

“They believe in themselves,” Francis said. “That’s a very important thing.”