Aspen High girls soccer ends Basalt’s 10-game win streak
Having a complete roster makes a bit of a difference. Just ask the Aspen High School girls soccer team.
“We had a lot of players who were ski racers, including myself, so they missed games,” Aspen junior Chelsea Moore said. “We didn’t have our full team. I think everyone’s come together and learned to play with each other.”
Due to numerous missing players — some because of skiing, some for other reasons — Aspen got off to a dismal start to its season. The Skiers lost four out of five games at one point and were 3-4 overall, although that feels like a long time ago now.
Six straight wins later, including Thursday’s 5-2 victory at Basalt, and suddenly Aspen again looks like a factor with the postseason fast approaching.
“It’s tough when you have players out skiing at the beginning of the season. You don’t have a preseason,” Aspen coach John Gillies said. “We know we got good players. Today the defense was immaculate. Everybody worked hard.”
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Thursday’s meeting between Aspen and Basalt was their lone matchup of the season, and it had all the drama a fan could want. While Aspen entered the game winners of five straight, Basalt rolled into Thursday’s snowy contest winners of 10 straight games and tied atop the league standings with Vail Mountain.
The game started well enough, Basalt’s Callie Card scoring midway through the first half to give the Longhorns a 1-0 lead. The casual start turned into a full-on heavyweight fight by halftime.
“We know that Aspen is a good team. We knew it was going to be tough,” Basalt coach Andrew Huntsman said. “They were exactly what we expected and they played physical and we didn’t step up to the physicality that we needed to.”
Down 1-0, Aspen finally got on the scoreboard with a goal by sophomore Clara Maxwell in the 35th minute. Less than three minutes later, the Skiers scored again, sophomore Emily Brenninger’s goal making it 2-1.
Basalt freshman Sasha Brucker scored only a few minutes after that to tie the game. Then, as the final seconds approached in the first half, the Longhorns were called for a handball in the goalie box and AHS was awarded a penalty shot. Aspen freshman Maeve McGuire took the shot and scored easily to make it 3-2 Skiers at the break.
“Maeve, little red hair in the center there taking a penalty as cool as a cucumber,” Gillies said. “Local rivalry — slotted it down in the corner without any nerves whatsoever. It’s phenomenal.”
The score held until Moore’s prayer of a shot sailed into the net with about 17 minutes to play, giving Aspen a commanding 4-2 lead. Snow, heavy at times, continued to fall in the second half, and Basalt couldn’t find a way to counter. The Skiers tacked on one more for good measure, freshman Payton Curley scoring with less than nine minutes remaining.
“It was crazy. We had so much team spirit and we really came together as a team,” Moore said about the win. “I think we are going to go into states really confident and hard. It’s going to be great.”
Aspen improved to 9-4 overall with the win and 7-2 in league play. Its final home game is Tuesday against Vail Christian, with the regular-season finale coming next Friday at Middle Park.
Basalt, which lost for the first time since a 4-0 loss to Fruita Monument on March 16, its second game of the season, fell to 10-3 overall and 7-1 in league play. Vail Mountain (8-2 overall, 7-0 league) sits alone in first place.
The Longhorns have two games remaining in the regular season. They host Roaring Fork Saturday morning before hosting Vail Mountain in what could be the de facto league championship game on Tuesday to close out the regular season. Vail Mountain will still have a league game against Coal Ridge on Wednesday as well.
“We just have to come together, get over this in a positive way and move forward,” Huntsman said. “We are in a good spot, but it’s also an uncertain spot. We still control our destiny, so it’s how we come back from this.”
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