Aspen, Coal Ridge settle for 1-1 draw
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – The Aspen girls soccer team settled for a draw Thursday with visiting Coal Ridge, but might have lost a major contributor in the process.
Goalkeeper Lindsey Anderson collided with Titans forward Kourtney Mitchell on a score in the 53rd minute, took a knee to the jaw and was knocked to the turf. The senior was bleeding and visibly disoriented as she was helped to the sideline.
Anderson’s teeth pierced her bottom lip and she suffered a concussion, according to reports. She was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital for further evaluation.
The injury overshadowed a thrilling, snowy clash of 3A Region 4 powers. Both teams found the net in regulation and had prime scoring chances in two five-minute overtimes. Ultimately, they settled for a draw in their first of two meetings in six days, which could clear up a currently muddled conference-title picture.
“It was a pretty good collision. I was freaked out at first,” said Mitchell, who had teeth marks in her left knee and a hole in her tights. “You have an aggressive goalie and an aggressive attacker, and you’ve got to take chances in a one-goal game.”
Skiers head coach John Gillies said earlier this week that his team would have to slow things down, put people behind the ball and try to frustrate high-powered Coal Ridge (8-0-2) if it was to compete. Aspen seemingly abandoned that game plan early Thursday, going on the attack from the opening whistle.
The Skiers (7-1-2) pushed the ball up field and launched a quick shot on goal after just 30 seconds had elapsed. Aspen’s Haley Rinaldi controlled the deflection and fired a strike for a goal – the first Coal Ridge has allowed this season.
“It was really indicative of the first half – they were the aggressor on almost every ball,” Titans head coach Brian Blair said. “We got punched in the mouth, and the girls didn’t know quite what to do.”
“We weren’t expecting that goal for sure,” Gillies added. “I think we made them nervous. We came in and were not afraid.”
While their defense was active and quick to close on Coal Ridge forwards, the Skiers had chances to pad their lead in the opening half – notably on a boot from Kate Moyer in stoppage time that sailed just wide.
“We were playing kickball-style soccer,” Blair said. “In the second 40 minutes, we … played hard and had some great opportunities.”
The Titans capitalized in the 53rd minute, after a shot on goal from left of the net slipped through Anderson’s hands. Mitchell alertly pounced on the loose ball and booted it into the net before making contact with Anderson.
The celebration was muted, as Mitchell immediately knelt to check on Anderson, who was slumped on the ground and holding her head in her hands.
“It really sucks,” Mitchell said. “I feel horrible.”
When play resumed, both tried and failed to find the net in regulation.
In the first extra period, Aspen lofted a direct kick into the box, which was bobbled by Coal Ridge keeper Tori Verdieck. Two Skiers converged, but defender Sam Wilson knocked the ball away mere feet from the goal line.
The Titans had a similar opportunity in the second overtime, but Aspen’s Sally Boelens booted the ball out of harm’s way.
The two teams, who are battling Basalt (8-1-3) for the league’s top spot, will square off again Tuesday in Peach Valley. First, the Titans host Vail Mountain School (11 a.m.) and Aspen visits Grand Valley (11 a.m.) on Saturday.
“Hopefully we’ll come out and play better,” Blair said. “Aspen played a really good game. They deserved to get a part of this result, too.”
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