Aspen soccer pushes Titans
Special to The Aspen Times
The Aspen Skiers left the field out of breathe, drenched in sweat and a little disappointed in a 2-0 loss against the Coal Ridge Titans, but they fought with everything they had and left nothing on the field Thursday afternoon.
The league-leading Titans (6-1-0 overall) were given a battle and no easy walkover in the boys soccer matchup.
It was the perfect afternoon for soccer. The boys hit the field ready to go with the sun high above them and the breeze blowing in at just the right time to cool them down.
From the first kick, the Skiers advanced the ball only to be stopped by the Titans, but it didn’t take long for them to regain possession.
Back and forth
The next half-hour the teams battled back and forth, sending passes and making moves up and down the Aspen School District field. The ball never stayed on either side of midfield for too long.
The Aspen Skiers did not waste any time putting into motion what they’ve been working on so far this season, head coach Dave Francis said.
“Even with (Thursday’s) game disappointment, we still showed improvement,” Francis said. “We can play with anybody in the conference.”
The Skiers played a defensive game from the first whistle to the last. Many times they closed down the high-scoring Titans, limited the space they had to work with and put the pressure on.
A penalty kick with 50 seconds to go in the first half gave the Titans their first goal. Enrique Bucio powered the ball into the far right corner for a 1-0.
The goal set a fire among the Skiers. They attacked and carried the ball downfield, taking a shot. Saved by the Coal Ridge goalie, the Skiers attacked again — stopped short by the halftime whistle.
Given a chance to rest and a pep talk, the team took the field fully recharged in the second half. In the first 10 minutes, both teams put everything they had into getting the ball up field quickly, only to be put on defense again.
The Titans gained possession, worked the ball and slipped a shot past the Aspen goalie, scoring their second and final goal of the game with 26 minutes left to play.
“We matched them very well until the end of the game,” Francis said. “We were equal to them.”
Respect from the Titans
Coal Ridge head coach Michael Mikalakis was glad the Titans got the chance to face off against the Skiers.
“Aspen came out tough,” he said. “Every year we come up here, and it’s always a very close, very tough game. They play well. They make great runs. They played excellent defense.”
Coal Ridge came ready to play and work toward getting to the next level, he said, adding that Aspen helped to push the Titans to that next level Thursday.
The Skiers may not have been able to put the ball in the back of the net, but they were only one shot on goal behind the Titans, who had a total of eight.
The Skiers (1-7-0 overall, 1-2-0 in confrence) have the weekend off to prepare for Roaring Fork on Tuesday.
Abby Margulis is an editorial intern working at The Aspen Times. She is a junior at DePauw University in Indiana.
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A confident group early in the season, the Aspen High School boys soccer team lost its footing midway through and could have seen its playoff aspirations slip away. But the Skiers came together in a way they hadn’t in many years.