Aspen soccer goes down, but not without a fight | AspenTimes.com
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Aspen soccer goes down, but not without a fight

Nate PetersonThe Aspen TimesAspen CO, Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS The objective was to frustrate 3A’s top soccer team on its home turf.Do that, and Aspen soccer coach Junior Sutherland believed his team might be able to do the one thing no other squad in the state had done all season: beat Colorado Springs Christian.The Skiers certainly gave the top-ranked and undefeated Lions a scare on Saturday night, but there was no upset. After holding the Lions to one goal in the first half, Aspen had a game-tying goal called off at the start of the second half by an off-sides infraction.The Lions didn’t let the Skiers hang around after that, scoring three more goals in a 4-0 win. The victory was Colorado Springs Christian’s 17th this season, and sent the home team to Thursday’s 3A quarterfinal round where it will host Region 7 champion Hotchkiss.Aspen, which was third in its region behind Hotchkiss and rival Basalt, finished the season 10-6-1.”[Colorado Springs Christian was] surprised,” Sutherland said. “The first 15 minutes of the second half, we played right with them and started to put pressure on them. They were expecting an easier game.”Sutherland said the final score wasn’t indicative of how close the match was. Colorado Springs Christian came in with a 3A best 95 goals scored in 16 games, but its offense didn’t find much room against an inspired Aspen defense in the first half.The Lions outshot the Skiers, 11-3, in the game’s first 40 minutes, but only had the one goal to show for it.Aspen went on the offensive in the second half, and appeared to have tied the game with a goal before the off-sides whistle.”I didn’t see it,” Sutherland said of the call. “I was running with the ball and it looked fine to me.”The call proved critical. Minutes later, Aspen’s Will Bloemsma collided with a Lions player on a scoring run and the Lions took possession of the loose ball and then transitioned quickly into a fast break that led to the second score of the game.Sutherland said he felt the no-call on Bloemsma’s collision in the box was a bad call. The damage was done, however.Down, 2-0, Sutherland scrapped his defensive-minded alignment to try to catch up, and the Lions took advantage of more passing lanes to pull away with two late goals.”We went down there and our intention was to frustrate them, to play it tight at the back, and we did that,” Sutherland said. “When it ended up 2-0, at that time you start chasing the game. You’re pushing players up to try and score goals. I don’t think it was a 4-0 game. Basically the kids played amazing. The first 60 minutes of the game, we were right with them and that frustrated them.”Now it’s Hotchkiss’ turn to see if it can pull off the upset of the season. Sutherland said he likes the Bulldogs’ chances, although he noted that Colorado Springs Christian’s home-field advantage should be a factor.”I think if Hotchkiss was to play them on grass, they’d give them a very good game,” Sutherland said. The coach also added that he was proud of the way his senior-led team responded to the challenge of a long road trip to play the state’s top-ranked squad. “In the second half, we outshot them, 10-7. We definitely put pressure on them. It could have been a 1-1 game, and if it was, it could have been a different story,” Sutherland said. “Basically, I told them to leave nothing on the field, to come out and play their hearts out. That’s what they did. There’s not anyone who played who didn’t have a good game. They battled and they gave it their all. They’re a very good team.”npeterson@aspentimes.com


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