Aspen holds on against CRMS
Aspen forward Stephen Buzbee had taken off his cleats. For much of the second half of Tuesday’s soccer game at Colorado Rocky Mountain School, many of the Skiers starters were huddled on the bench, shielding themselves from the elements under a canopy and multiple layers of clothing.They were far from comfortable, however. Their 4-0 halftime lead was cut to just one with close to five minutes remaining. On came the cleats. Off came the jackets. Aspen (13-2 overall, 11-1 3A Western Slope) managed to quell the comeback bid and escape with the 4-3 win in its regular season finale.”We put some kids on the bench to give them some rest, and we really put ourselves under some pressure,” Skiers head coach Junior Sutherland said. “But at the end of the day, we got the result.” Aspen, who clinched the league title Saturday with a win against Vail Mountain School, looked poised for a blowout victory. It took the Skiers just 15 minutes to take a 2-0 lead after goals by seniors Matt Cooper and Buzbee. Aspen pushed the majority of its players upfield to apply pressure on the CRMS goal, and the speedy Cooper was the beneficiary of a fortunate ricochet. He corralled a loose ball in the box and found the net for the first time this season.
“I moved up in the box for the corner shot, and I was in the right spot,” Cooper said. “Coach was telling me it was going to be my day.”Buzbee stretched the lead a few minutes later when he controlled a ball to the right of the net and fired a grounder that snuck inside the near post. The goal was Buzbee’s league-leading 26th of the season.Senior Nicky Anastas put Aspen ahead by three. He lined up for a penalty kick moments after Tyler Moore was taken down from behind in the box. He delivered a shot that glanced off the CRMS goalkeeper, spun awkwardly and rolled into the net. “I don’t want to sub. This is beautiful to watch,” Sutherland remarked midway through the first half. Moore capped what Sutherland called his team’s best half of the season minutes later. The junior charged through the box and headed home a floating ball with authority.
CRMS, who was blanked, 6-0, in its previous game with Aspen on Sept. 26, refused to give in.”We had an outstanding performance in the first, but we let them back in the game,” Sutherland said.A primarily inexperienced group of Aspen subs surrendered two goals in the first 20 minutes. CRMS added another score in the 75th minute, prompting players on the Aspen bench to shed the jackets and warm up. “I think everyone got a little cold and tired,” Cooper said. “None of us were too worried.”
Cooper and Buzbee were reinserted into the lineup, helped halt the momentum and sealed the win – Aspen’s fifth straight. The larger objective is now in sight. Seedings for the 3A state tournament will be released Sunday. Preparation for the first round begins with practice at 6:45 a.m. today.”We don’t want to go 13-2 and lose in the first round of the playoffs,” a subdued Buzbee said. “Hopefully, we’ll play four more games and really have something to celebrate.””From here on out, there are no easy games,” Sutherland said. “The kids put pressure on themselves, and they want to do well. I believe we have a chance to have a good run.” Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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