Aspen High boys soccer falls to Coal Ridge, still eyes a spot in playoffs
While it wasn’t a knockout punch, Coal Ridge sent an early message to the Aspen High School boys soccer team with a quick goal in Saturday’s game on the AHS turf.
“It’s always going to be tough when you sort of give them a head start in the first minute there,” Aspen coach Dave Francis said. “Immediately they had the momentum — we were on the back foot. They had three chances, three goals. On another day it would be three chances, one goal, so it was tough.”
The Titans scored in the opening moments of the game and used that momentum to cruise to a 4-0 win over the Skiers. The game was a matchup of teams battling for second place in the Class 3A Western Slope League behind first-place Delta.
Coal Ridge (10-2-1 overall, 5-1 WSL) tacked on goals in the 32nd minute and 38th minute to lead 3-0 at halftime. The Titans added one more early in the second half to close out the scoring.
“We definitely didn’t play up to the level we’ve been playing at recently,” Francis said. “Sometimes that’s soccer. On another given day, it could have easily gone another way to start with.”
It was the first league loss of the season for Aspen, which fell to 6-5-2 overall and 4-1-2 in league play. The loss also snapped a run of six straight games without defeat (four wins, two ties), dating to a 3-1 loss at Middle Park on Sept. 21.
Still, the team’s success over those six games has it sitting in a good spot to make the state tournament with only two regular season games remaining.
“Today is a lesson. It’s a lesson in what can happen when you are not playing up to your level and doing the things you are meant to,” Francis said. “We got to take care of the rest of our games.”
The ratings percentage index (RPI) is the all-important number that determines which teams make the 32-team postseason field. Aspen entered Saturday’s contest No. 30 in 3A, while Coal Ridge was No. 20. The Skiers still have games at Basalt on Thursday and at home against Grand Valley on Saturday.
Basalt (5-8, 3-3) was No. 40 in RPI (as of late Saturday evening) and needs a lot to go right this week to make the state tournament. BHS plays Tuesday at Vail Mountain (3-8-1, 1-4-1) before finishing the season against Aspen.
Grand Valley (4-7-1, 1-5) is No. 45 in RPI. AHS has already beaten both Basalt and Grand Valley once this season.
“We want to get two wins and I think we’ll be looking at the playoffs. If we slip up between now and then, it’s hard to say,” Francis said. “We’ve proved we can put those games away, and we’ve also proved we can throw those games away. We just got to come out strong the last couple of games.”
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Strange is a word that will likely define the winter high school sports season. But, after numerous delays and endless doubts, that season is finally here. It will include fewer games, more masks and a lot of empty seats, but adapting to that strangeness is better than the alternative.