Aspen soccer kicks into gear vs. Grand Junction Central
Aspen Times Staff Writer
Playing on grass for the first time this spring, the Aspen High girls soccer team opened its season Saturday in Grand Junction with a 3-1 win over the larger, Class 5A Grand Junction Central.
Since beginning the preseason on Feb. 21, the team has been practicing indoors, on the basketball court at the AHS Skierdome. But the AHS girls weren’t hampered by the softer, grassy footing Saturday as they broke a 1-1 tie through the first half to record a win in their season debut.
“These girls are pretty good – young, but good,” said Grant “Junior” Sutherland, who coaches Aspen along with Jon Gillies. “We’ve got five or six sophomores who are starting, so to beat a 5A school the first day we play outside was good.”
Aspen senior Lacee Patterson, one of just three seniors on the squad, scored in the first half to give Aspen a 1-0 lead. But Grand Junction Central matched to send the contest into the second half tied at 1-1.
“As the half went on, we decided to play a little bit,” Sutherland said.
Patterson sent younger sister Lindsey, a sophomore, on a rush that netted Aspen’s second goal early on, before senior Devon McCloskey added an insurance goal later.
“McCloskey won it off a defender, and she had a shot from outside the box that beat the keeper,” Sutherland said. “She could have a big year for us.”
Sophomore goalie Mary Gates recorded the win for Aspen, allowing the lone Central goal in the first half.
“A win’s a win, and at the start of the season, that’s how you want to do it,” Sutherland said. “Grand Junction put a lot of pressure on us, but we responded.”
Aspen’s sweeper, Kelly Waldron, the third senior, helped keep the clamps on the Grand Junction Central attack.
“The three of them [seniors] definitely led out there, and the young girls stepped up,” Sutherland said, “but they were nervous. We’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Last season, Aspen also opened play against Grand Junction Central. Last year, however, the Aspen girls lost big, 4-0. The AHS girls finished second in the Class 3A Western Slope League, behind Basalt, at 8-1-1. And Aspen lost to Basalt in the quarterfinals of the state tournament to finish at 11-5 overall.
“It’s going to be tough this year,” Sutherland said. “We’re young and we don’t have much size, but if the kids listen and the seniors lead, the kids could have a great season. Obviously, Basalt will be the team to beat this year and Eagle Valley should be strong too.”
After a two-week layoff for spring break, Aspen returns to the pitch on April 2 to open its league schedule at Olathe.
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