Aspen girls fall to Grand Junction | AspenTimes.com
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Aspen girls fall to Grand Junction

Jon MaletzThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet The Aspen Times
ALL | The Aspen Times

ASPEN Aspen’s comeback bid came up one goal short. The Skiers girls shook off first-half soreness and fatigue – the direct result of Monday’s league victory in Vail – and scored two goals in the game’s final 40 minutes Tuesday against visiting 5A Grand Junction Central. But the late outburst was not enough to overcome a first half in which they were outscored, 3-0, and the Warriors prevailed.”We looked tired and beat. I don’t think we believed in ourselves,” Aspen coach John Gillies said. “It was our first time being behind this season, and we showed great character and determination.”

The Skiers (3-1, 3-0 3A Western Slope) rolled through an early slate of conference games, outscoring Rangely, Roaring Fork and Vail by a combined score of 15-2. Tuesday, in the team’s final game before a nearly two-week spring break layoff, Gillies and his team knew they’d be in for a tough test against a team in the state’s top classification. They didn’t expect to be facing a three-goal deficit after just 18 minutes, however.”A lot us were tired after last night’s game, and I really don’t think we were prepared,” Skiers forward Julia Hassall said. “We didn’t play with enough energy, and we didn’t know how good they really were.”Central, which opened its season with a 7-1 victory over Coal Ridge, came out firing. A loose ball near midfield produced a pass up the right side to Warriors forward Ashley Paul. The sophomore was first to the ball and, with multiple Skiers in hot pursuit, calmly fired a shot past Aspen goalkeeper Lindsey Anderson. “When we created space, we created more opportunities,” Warriors coach Larry Johnson said. “That’s the trend we’ve tried to establish.”Central continued to assert itself, producing two goals in a one-minute span midway through the half. Kaylin Madras scored off a strong cross from left to right, then Paul found the net once more off a one-touch pass from Stacy Kinnett.

The Skiers looked lost and could not establish continuity on offense. Midfielder Maggie Melberg lined up a free kick from just outside the box in the waning minutes of the half, but her shot attempt ricocheted off a wall of Warriors. “They beat us at midfield,” Gillies said. “Their players ran through, and we were ball watching instead of playing defense.” “They moved the ball really well,” Hassall added. “Our eyes opened up more [in the second half].”Aspen started to control the tempo and much of the field at the start of the second half, but still couldn’t break through. That changed in the 68th minute, however, on a run up the sideline. Aspen forward Brittany Marrs dribbled upfield and launched a shot that deflected off the fingertips of Grand Junction goalkeeper Savannah Moore, trickled into the corner, hit the far post and found the net. Mere seconds after she was reinserted into the lineup with three minutes remaining, Marrs passed off to Hassall, who, after a game spent being hounded by defenders, found a rare swatch of open turf. The senior, who leads Aspen with eight goals – four from the season-opening win at Rangely – lofted a floater that Moore could not reach as she backpedaled. “I look at Aspen as a 3A and see that only as a number,” Johnson said. “They had good control and beat us to the ball, all the things that we usually do. We played too much in the middle and needed to make passes quicker. … Aspen just took it to us.”



But time was not on the Skiers’ side. They pushed the ball deep into the Warriors’ zone one last time, but Grand Junction cleared the ball and the clock soon expired. “If we had another 10 minutes, we probably would’ve won,” Hassall said. “But this definitely gives us more confidence for when we play tougher teams.””We were too lazy in the first, but the second half was great,” Gillies added. “I’m happy with a loss. Can you believe that?jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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