Aspen clinches state tourney berth
Aspen Times Staff Writer
With a 3-1 win over the Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS) in Saturday’s homecoming game in Aspen, the Aspen High boys soccer team clinched the No. 2 position in the Class 3A Western Slope League standings behind No. 1 Basalt.
Furthermore, like Basalt, Aspen claimed a bye through the 3A Regional Tournament directly to the 16-team 3A state tournament.
“It’s a huge win for us,” said Grant “Junior” Sutherland, who coaches Aspen with John Gillies.
“They wanted it and they came out with passion and played hard from the start. It wasn’t pretty, and CRMS really is a good team, but they got the win,” the coach continued.
Aspen sophomore goalie Fred Bernard saved a CRMS penalty kick and otherwise “had an outstanding game,” Sutherland said, “as did [senior defender] Tae Westcott – their best games so far.”
In a game that featured a scoreless second half, CRMS got on the board first, but Aspen freshman Nicky Anastas answered with a goal assisted by senior Scot Woolley.
Junior Coulter VanDomelen scored the eventual game-winner on an Aspen freekick that deflected off a CRMS defender and in, according to Sutherland. Junior Gabriel Grisolia scored Aspen’s third goal on a penalty kick after Skier freshman Stephen Buzbee was hauled down in the goalie box, according to Sutherland.
“CRMS has improved a lot and it’s good to see them in the hunt in the league standings,” Sutherland said. “They’ve been in some very close games with some good teams – it seems they’ve given everyone problems. Their coach has done a good job.”
At 8-0-1 in league play, Basalt, which had the weekend off, has clinched its third consecutive Class 3A Western Slope League championship, along with a bye through the regional round.
Aspen, now 6-3 in league and 7-7 overall, secured the No. 2 spot in the league standings ahead of No. 3 Vail Mountain (5-4-1) and No. 4 Eagle Valley.
Basalt and Aspen get byes directly to the 16-team state tourney, while Vail Mountain and Eagle Valley are two of 16 teams that must win so-called regional tournament games to advance into the eight, unfilled state tournament slots.
On Tuesday in Aspen at 4 p.m., Aspen hosts Basalt for both teams’ regular season finale, but Sutherland doesn’t expect the rivalry match to have its usual flare.
“We did what we needed to do to get the second spot and a bye week, so it doesn’t matter,” he said. “We’ll probably go into Basalt relaxed, we’ll give some players a rest and we’ll try to make sure we don’t get anybody injured.”
Basalt High head coach “Erik Streff and I have become pretty good friends over the last year or two, and we understand the rivalry,” Sutherland continued. “But we also don’t want to see anyone injured either, and we want to give some other kids a run in this rivalry game.”
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