Aspen shines through against Rams
The thunderclouds were rolling in fast. The score, despite a dominating performance from Aspen in the first 40 minutes, was still knotted at zero at the half. The possibility of the Skiers soccer team tying overmatched Roaring Fork at home Thursday was materializing quickly.With drops of rain beginning to course down from overhead, Aspen coach Junior Sutherland kept his words to his players short and to the point during the break between halves.”I said that we didn’t want to end up with a tie, but that’s what’s going to happen if we don’t get a goal early in the second half and they call the game,” Sutherland said. “We needed to have some composure. We just couldn’t finish, so I told them to be more patient and make their shots count.”Sutherland’s speech had its intended effect. The Skiers (5-2) scored four goals in the final 40 minutes for a 4-1 win. The most important goal, of course, was the first one, which came from junior striker Eric Sciarrone three minutes into the second half.Lightning struck for the Skiers when Sciarrone booted a loose ball in the goal box past Rams goalie Torrey Udall. Aspen freshman striker Baker Boyd had driven in for a clean shot but lost his handle on the ball, only to watch Sciarrone – who was just two yards away – fly in for the blast. Sciarrone said he just happened to be in the right place at the right time.
Then lightning really did strike. A nearby flash prompted the head referee to stop play, and both teams sprinted off the field to seek shelter from the rain inside the high school. After a 30-minute delay, the weather broke, and play resumed.The playing surface was wet and slippery, but the Skiers – with the hard-to-come-by first goal behind them – were actually more sure-footed than they had been during the scoreless first half.That spelled trouble for Udall, who put on a clinic between the posts before Sciarrone’s first goal found the back of the net. On Aspen scoring chances in the first half, Udall had cut down angles with his 6-foot, 2-inch frame. The Skiers forwards continued to push shots wide or over the crossbar.
Udall was exposed in the second half, however, when the Skiers, heeding Sutherland’s advice and became more patient with the ball in front of the Roaring Fork net. Four minutes after play resumed following the weather delay, Aspen’s Stephen Buzbee sliced in front of a defender, then stalled for a quick second to line up a shot. Udall charged and deflected the blast, but Sciarrone again was in the right place at the right time and booted the loose ball into the empty net.”Junior always says great strikers know how to position themselves to be in the right spot all the time,” Sciarrone said. “I always try to anticipate where the ball is going to go whenever I’m in front of the net. That was what happened.”In the 64h minute of play, Buzbee pushed Aspen’s lead to 3-0 off an assist from junior sweeper Nicky Anastas. Anastas tapped a pass to an open Buzbee in the box, and the junior striker turned and fired a shot into the left side of the net.The near-flawless second half for Aspen was tarnished with one critical mistake. Only two minutes after Buzbee’s goal, Aspen junior stopper Matt Cooper tried to make a safe play by kicking the ball back to goalie Fred Bernard in the goal box so Bernard could clear.
The pass was a little soft, and Roaring Fork’s Omar Garcia, sensing an opportunity, charged on the ball and caught up to it about the same time Bernard did. The ensuing collision left Bernard on the ground and Garcia still on his feet, which left the Rams striker with an empty net and no Aspen defender in sight.Cooper was visibly upset about the miscue, which negated the shutout after Garcia tapped in the ball, but the mistake was quickly forgotten once Aspen went back on the attack. Two minutes later, Aspen got its fourth goal from the most unlikely of places – the right foot of regular goalie Andy Conarroe. Sutherland started Bernard in net, so Conarroe saw some playing time as a midfielder in the second half. He made the most of it, too, when he connected on an assist from Anastas from about 30 yards out.After a a Roaring Fork penalty, Anastas took a free kick from the right corner of the field. Instead of crossing the ball in front of the net, Anastas flicked the free kick to his left to a waiting Conarroe, who then unloaded with a line drive that found its way into the goal’s top right corner.
Udall had set up on the left side of the goal expecting the cross. “That was one of the most beautiful goals I’ve ever seen,” Sutherland said. “That it came from a goalie? Go figure.”From there, the Skiers played sound defense to run out the clock and preserve the win. The Skiers fired 21 shots at Udall, while Roaring Fork had fewer than 10 shots in the whole match.The Skiers next play at 11 a.m. Saturday at Paonia.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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