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Aspen girls win season finale

Nate PetersonAspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times
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ASPEN Not the finish Aspen’s soccer seniors had hoped for, and not one they’ll soon forget.Three days after Rangely spoiled their shot at a postseason berth, the Skiers’ Haley Ortmann, Taylor Buzbee and Page Cottrell walked off their home pitch as teammates for the last time Monday afternoon.That they walked off winners following a dramatic 3-2 comeback against Coal Ridge undoubtedly softened the blow of their season ending so abruptly.Buzbee netted two goals to wipe out the Titans’ early lead, and sophomore Lizzy Eastley tapped in the go-ahead goal with 13 minutes remaining to seal the win.Down 2-1 at the half, Aspen’s Ortmann made an emotional plea to her teammates to not give up – and to play with nothing to lose.The speech struck a chord with her teammates.

“When you see Haley getting so emotional as a senior, and you know she wants it, you just have to win it for her for her last time,” Buzbee said. “We had to do it for her.””She always gets us pumped up,” Eastley said. “Especially this game. It was just the last game for the seniors, and we knew how important it was to them. We wanted to do it for them because they’re really good soccer players.”No one played with more grit, arguably, than goalie Lindsey Anderson. A shoulder injury sidelined the freshman in the opening minutes, and she could only watch as Coal Ridge took a 2-0 lead less than six minutes into the game.Anderson returned to the net after the second goal and held Coal Ridge scoreless for the remainder of the match – fighting through pain while making a number of aggressive saves.”I don’t think there was ever any doubt we were going to win, even when we were down two to nil,” Skiers coach John Gillies said. “Right at the last minute, Lindsay put her shoulder out, and then after two goals, decided the shoulder was fine.”Aspen’s front line looked sluggish and unorganized in the first 20 minutes, and struggled to find openings against Coal Ridge’s physical defense.

Junior Julia Hassall finally got a clean look in the 22nd minute, but her rolling shot was wide left. Less than three minutes later, Hassall made another run at the Titans’ goal before passing off to a streaking Buzbee. With Titans goalie Vannessa Hinojos and another defender converging on her, Buzbee managed to fire a precise shot before all three collided. Hinojos remained on the turf for a few minutes after the ball rolled into the back of the net, but she stayed in the game.The Skiers controlled the pace in the second half, but the goals didn’t come easily.In the 43rd minute, Ortmann had a free kick from 30 yards out that bounced off Hinojos’ hands, then the crossbar before the Titans goalie pounced on the ball. Ten minutes later, Buzbee’s shot off a well-placed corner kick was deflected.But the constant pressure finally led to a Coal Ridge mistake.Buzbee corralled a shanked goal kick in the 54th minute and fired immediately. The shot flew over Hinojos’ outstretched hands and glanced off the crossbar before falling into the goal.In the 62nd minute, Buzbee set Hassall up, but the ensuing shot again bounced off the crossbar.

After three more scoring chances, Eastley finally connected for the Skiers in the 77th minute. A cross intended for Hassall skipped all the way to her on the left wing and she tapped it past Hinojos and just inside the far post.”I thought Julia was going to get it, and I was surprised that I got it,” Eastley said.The loss of three dynamic seniors was tough to handle after Monday’s game, but Gillies acknowledged that he is excited about the Skiers’ prospects for next season.”We’ve had the same battle we’ve had all year,” he said. “It’s a mental discipline we’ve been lacking. It’s almost a desire. It’s a shame. But, you’ve got to count that we lost eight senior starters last year. This is a team with very few seniors, which is going to be around next year. It’s awfully sad to lose these seniors, and for them to finish the season this way, but you’ve got to think about next year. “If you look at what’s coming through, we should be pretty good. … Sally Boelens can step into Haley’s shoes. Lacy Moore can step into Page’s shoes. We’ve got Lizzy, who can step into Taylor’s. It’s a shame to lose this sort of maturity, but on the other hand we’ve got the skills to replace them. Next year we’re expecting big things. This year was a rebuilding year.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com.


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