Aspen High boys soccer beats Grand Valley, 6-0, holds on to playoff hopes

Aspen soccer player Henry Morrison, left, dribbles upfield against Grand Valley on Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018, on the AHS turf. The Skiers won, 6-0. (Photo by Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times).
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times

The Aspen High School boys soccer team has little room for error when it comes to its playoff hopes. Sitting firmly on the bubble heading into the final week of the regular season, the Skiers had to take care of business on Saturday against visiting Grand Valley, and did so with a 6-0 win on the AHS turf.

“On our day, we can play well,” AHS coach Dave Francis said. “We have days where we don’t play so well. I thought first half Grand Valley battled hard and sort of upset our rhythm, even though we got the two goals.”

Aspen led Grand Valley (2-12 overall) at halftime, 2-0, behind a goal each from Henry Morrison and Edgar Ortiz. Just before reaching the midway point of the second half, Ortiz scored his second to make it 3-0, while Morrison got his second with under five minutes to play. Aspen’s final two goals were scored by Max Brenninger in what ended up being an extended stoppage time.

“As the game went along in the second half, we started to combine much better and move the ball well,” Francis said. “We had a pretty young side out there at the end — five sophomores and a freshman to finish off the game. It was good to be able to get everybody out on the field.”

The win improved Aspen’s record to 6-6 overall. The Skiers are 3-3 in Class 3A Western Slope League play, two losses behind Basalt, Roaring Fork and Coal Ridge, who all have one loss and are tied atop the standings. Delta is alone in fourth with two league losses.

The top two finishers in WSL play earn an automatic berth to the state playoffs. Everyone else has to qualify based off RPI, a predicament that left AHS out of the 32-team postseason a year ago. As of 5 p.m. Saturday, Aspen had an RPI of 30.

The Skiers close out the regular season with back-to-back home games. They will host Vail Mountain on Thursday and finish with Fruita on Saturday. Aspen had been scheduled to play last Thursday at Grand Junction, but weather forced that game to be canceled and Francis said it is unlikely to be made up.

“I think we really needed the Grand Junction game, as well, to solidify a playoff spot,” Francis said. “So, we’ll see how that goes.”

Basalt (7-7 overall) has one game remaining, at Delta later in the week. A win would give the Longhorns the WSL championship based off head-to-head league wins over Roaring Fork and Coal Ridge this season.

BHS had jumped to No. 22 in RPI as of Saturday evening.