Aspen, CRMS settle for draw |

Aspen, CRMS settle for draw

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN- One shot rattled the post. Others sailed just wide, or were smothered by alert and daring goalkeepers.

In Wednesday’s soccer game between Aspen and visiting Colorado Rocky Mountain School, scoring chances and tense moments abounded – but not goals. After 90 hard-fought, physical minutes, the two teams had to settle for a scoreless draw.

As he walked off the turf after the final whistle, Skiers senior Terry Leitch pulled his jersey over his face and clenched his fists in frustration. Coaches shared a much different reaction.

“I have a young team, and they battled hard,” said Aspen head coach Junior Sutherland, whose Skiers are 2-3-1. “Our goal was to be competitive this year, and you’ve seen it. … You can’t fault the effort.”

“We had a nice, varied attack … and we were able to hold them off, which is a good thing,” CRMS head coach Dan Pittz added. “We’re just not finishing, seeing the play all the way through to the end. … If we put that together, we’ll go far.”

Both squads had chances to break the deadlock during the opening half – none bigger than when Aspen’s Will Bloemsma charged toward the net in the 30th minute. The junior took on a defender on a run up the left side, then launched a strong shot on goal. CRMS goalkeeper Frank Adgate sprawled out to deflect the ball, which wound up ringing off the far post before bounding out of play.

The close calls continued for Bloemsma in the second half. He took a direct kick from just outside the box in the 50th minute, but couldn’t slip the ball past Adgate. Later, Bloemsma set up for a free kick from 20 yards out, but his shot sailed high and wide. He dropped to the ground and held his head in his hands.

CRMS (2-0-1) knows the feeling. It controlled the pace for long stretches in the second half, and pelted Aspen goalkeeper Jesis Andrade with shots from a wide variety of angles. Andrade proved up to the challenge, however, drawing gasps from the Skiers faithful when, on multiple occasions, he ventured far out of net to challenge onrushing forwards.

“In the first five to 10 minutes we gave them a little [space] and they played the ball around and made some passes. Then, we got on our game and closed them down. It was a different game after that,” Sutherland said.

“[CRMS] is definitely a well-organized team. They’re good, big, strong players.”

Last season, CRMS finished 0-12 after having to forfeit two wins and a tie for playing with an ineligible player. This season, after victories over Vail Mountain and Basalt, it has quickly emerged as a contender in a 3A Western Slope where parity reigns, at least in the early going.

“[Our past] has in some ways been our ball and chain. It was holding us back,” Pittz said. “Now, we believe in ourselves. Other teams are coming at us a little more. It will be great to see if we can keep our mental focus.”

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