Aspen girls fall to Coal Ridge |

Aspen girls fall to Coal Ridge

Nate PetersonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Aspen's Becca Dolores goes for the ball against Coal Ridge's Chelsie Ryan on Tuesday at Aspen High School. (Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times)

ASPEN The sun already had set when the game-winning goal hit the back of the net. Aspen’s girls soccer team hopes that its playoff chances didn’t fade into the horizon as well Tuesday afternoon after Coal Ridge rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the second half and shoved its way back into the race for the 3A Slope’s second playoff spot with a 3-2 win.”We stayed positive the whole time, and I think that’s the way we were able to do it,” Titans coach Brian Blair said after his team’s first win over Aspen in its three-year history. “Today we got down, but instead of people being like this is going to be the same old story, everyone was like, ‘No, we’re going to win this one, we’re going to get it back.’ If you get a whole team of people to believe that, then it’s possible. They made it happen.”

Aspen, meanwhile, couldn’t believe what just happened after the final whistle blew some seven minutes into stoppage time, ending arguably the most exciting – and physical – 80 minutes of soccer played in the conference this season.Shellshocked Skiers players were left to think about a Julia Hassall shot that pinged off the right goal post, or two defensive lapses that ended in Coal Ridge goals. There was also the 21 Aspen fouls and two yellow cards – which kept Skiers scoring threats Hassall and Lizzy Eastley on the sideline for prolonged stretches – to stew over. The loss of midfielder and senior captain Grace Seigle to injury midway through the second half also stung.”We’re really shocked,” said Hassall, who broke a 1-1 tie with 12 minutes remaining in the first half when she crossed up a defender in the box, then zipped a shot past Coal Ridge goalie Vanessa Hinojos. “We played really hard and we played with our hearts. I don’t think we came in overconfident at all. I thought we came out strong in the second half, they just had a lucky goal.”What Hassall saw as lucky, Coal Ridge players and fans would describe as delectable.After being outshot 7-2 in the first half, the Titans came out in the second half on the attack. Following a collision in the Aspen box, Coal Ridge lined up a corner kick that crossed in front of the Aspen goal, then squirted out to Mikaela Guettier on the left wing. Guettier then booted a shot from about 25 yards out that Aspen goalie Lindsey Anderson had a hard time judging in the air. The ball flew over Anderson’s outstretched hands and tucked neatly into the top left corner of the goal, tying the game at two.In the 62nd minute, the Titans’ Chelsie Ryan broke the collective tension on the field and on the sidelines when she caught up to a long ball, beat a Skiers defender, then hit a sliding shot past a diving Anderson for the game-winner.

“We wanted this game so bad,” said the sophomore. “We kept our heads in it and just kept going.”Aspen frantically tried to mount an offensive rush for an equalizer, but repeated fouls halted any momentum. Eastley was the first to head to the sideline after a hard foul drew a yellow card, then Hassall headed off with about seven minutes to go. The closest Aspen came to tying the game was a corner kick with about 12 minutes remaining that bounced around in the Titans’ box before being cleared.Coal Ridge finished with only five fouls to Aspen’s 21, a disparity that Hassall said was unfair.”I don’t feel like it was called evenly at all,” she said. “Those girls were throwing elbows and it was a dirty game, and we didn’t get as many calls.”Blair disagreed. “I think there was borderline calls on both sides,” the Coal Ridge coach said. “It’s the same thing I’d always wish, I’d wish the yellow [cards] would come out earlier because that tones the game down. You get a couple of yellows on both sides, people are like, ‘OK, they are not tolerating anything.’ If you wait until the second half, by then the game’s already too physical. There were some people who went in to get the ball, but also to make sure they knocked somebody down on both sides.”

Aspen’s first goal came in the 20th minute when Brittany Marrs one-timed a cross in front of the net from Abbi Cook.After both teams settled for a tie in the first meeting, the Titans’ win only muddles the league picture.Aspen still leads Coal Ridge in the league standings at 6-2-1, although the Skiers still have to play Basalt again. Coal Ridge, at 4-2-2, could overtake Aspen in the league standings if the Skiers pick up their third loss Thursday. The Titans’ two losses were both to Basalt.Aspen finishes the regular season on April 29 at Rangely, while Coal Ridge plays Rangely Thursday, then finishes with Roaring Fork on April

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