Aspen girls soccer flies by SkyView, gets rematch with Jefferson in quarterfinals
Margo McHugh is part of a defensive unit that Aspen High School girls soccer coach John Gillies thinks very highly of.
The senior, who plays on the backline with senior Jasmin Hanson and senior Tate Randel, not to mention junior goalie Ella Trane, is among those often overshadowed by Aspen’s stellar offense, led by standout sophomore Kelley Francis.
But McHugh will be among the last people to tell Francis to stop doing what she is doing.
“Kelley can put it in the back of the net as much as she wants,” McHugh said. “We were running today, but we all worked hard and worked together really well, and we were positive on the field, so I think that’s really what is helping us.”
The Skiers, seeded No. 6 in the Class 3A state playoffs, hosted No. 11 SkyView Academy on Saturday, winning 4-0 on the AHS turf. Led by three goals from Francis, the Skiers head back to the state quarterfinals where they will travel to No. 3 Jefferson Academy on Wednesday.
“We started off messy, but by the end we had worked it out,” Gillies said. “I was very, very happy with the defense. The defense was fantastic. Those three seniors at the back, they are a wall.”
Unlike a year ago, when the 13-seeded Skiers made the state semifinals after three straight dramatic, late-game wins, AHS has made it look easy this spring. Aspen opened the playoffs with a 6-0 win over No. 27 Englewood on Wednesday. Saturday’s win over SkyView was the ninth shutout in 16 games this season.
“We’ve really been on top of it, especially this last week in practice. We’ve just been linking up well,” McHugh said. “I think we brought that to the game today.”
Francis scored her first goal against SkyView just over two minutes into the game, putting in a rebound after a shot by freshman Jenny Ellis bounced off the Hawks’ goalie and straight into Francis’ waiting feet. Francis made it 2-0 when she scored again with about 14 minutes to play in the half. Sophomore Eva McDonough helped make that happen after her attack led to a collision with the SkyView goalie and a relatively open net for Francis.
Ellis helped set up Francis for her third goal about 12 minutes into the second half. It was the 39th goal of the season for Francis, extending her own school record.
Payton Curley had Aspen’s final goal, an easy tap in set up by Francis with about 23 minutes to go.
“That assist probably meant more to her than a fourth goal,” Gillies said of Francis. “She’s already got the record for goals; she wants the record for assists. She got two assists last year. I think she’s got 13 this year, which beats Chelsea Moore’s record. She just wants to beat records. That’s all the girl wants to do.”
Next up, Aspen will face a Jaguar team that needed overtime to beat No. 19 Roaring Fork on Saturday. Jefferson Academy happens to be the defending 3A state champion and the same team that beat AHS 1-0 in the state semifinals a year ago.
Saturday’s game with SkyView also was the final game on the AHS turf for the Skiers, and not just the seniors. The turf will be replaced as soon as the season is over.
“We are still going strong, but this field is really sentimental and we love playing here,” McHugh said. “It’s emotional, I’m not going to lie. I’ve been here for the last four years and I’ve had some awesome memories out here with a lot of my best friends. It will be hard saying goodbye.”
Of the 10 players listed on the varsity roster ahead of Tuesday’s home game with Summit, two were juniors, seven were sophomores and one was a freshman. It’s a far cry from the class of 10 seniors who last season led the Skiers to a perfect 27-0 mark and the Class 3A state championship.