Aspen High boys soccer rolls by rival Basalt in rare Saturday night game
The Aspen High School boys soccer team had the spotlight in more ways than one on Saturday.
Getting a rare opportunity to play under the lights on the AHS turf, the Skiers carried a dominant offensive surge late in the first half to a needed 6-1 rout of rival Basalt.
It’s a win that keeps Aspen in the thick of the Class 3A Western Slope League race. It also gave the Skiers the season sweep of the Longhorns — AHS also won 2-1 on Sept. 6 in Basalt, a non-league game.
“We don’t get to do this much, so when we do it’s a special opportunity and we got to take advantage,” AHS senior Henry Morrison said of the night game. “We’ve never started well on Saturdays, historically. But we were able to overcome it and not concede early, which was huge.”
The Longhorns had chances early in Saturday’s contest to make a statement, but the bounce never went their way. Aspen broke the ice when junior Nate Carricarte scored with a touch under 17 minutes to play in the first half.
Leading 1-0, the Skiers hit the throttle. Morrison scored off a free kick with less than nine minutes until half to make it 2-0, before senior Edgar Ortiz made it 3-0 only a couple of minutes later. Between the second and third goal, AHS sophomore goalie Henry Palmaz made a trio of incredible saves to keep the Longhorns off the scoreboard.
“It did unravel,” BHS coach Brent Hayes said. “We were taking it to them. We kind of let off the gas and had a couple of unfortunate penalties. Took our heads out of the game a little bit. … It’s hard to come back from that.”
AHS junior Jake Bozza tacked on another goal just before stoppage time, leading to a dominant 4-0 halftime lead for the Skiers.
The game settled down in the second half, with neither team scoring again until Aspen’s Wesley Ferrell scored off a rebound just past the midway point to make it 5-0. Basalt’s lone goal came with about 12 minutes to play from Richard Argueta.
Senior Nico Barlozzini had the final goal for the Skiers with only two minutes remaining.
“What a fantastic evening — lots of people out here. What can I say? I couldn’t be happier,” AHS coach Dave Francis said. “It took us a while to settle into the game. Basalt had their chances early on, but once we grabbed our first goal we really sort of settled down and started to move the ball well. They were combining well. We had good shape. You could see the energy in the team.”
Basalt dropped to 3-6 overall with the loss. BHS had won back-to-back games over Moffat County (8-0) and Coal Ridge (3-2) before Saturday’s defeat. The loss to Aspen was the first league loss for the Longhorns, who are set to host Moffat County on Tuesday.
“We are far better than that,” Hayes said of the 6-1 final score on Saturday. “I wasn’t pleased with our penalties. Us getting those doesn’t make any sense. It’s one of those games where you are never quite sure what the hell just happened. But the league is wide open, that’s for sure.”
Aspen improved to 4-4 overall. The Skiers have now won back-to-back games after losing four straight, dating back to their first win over the Longhorns. AHS now is 2-1 in WSL play.
With Basalt’s loss, Roaring Fork becomes the only team left without a loss in league play. The Rams are ranked No. 2 in Class 3A. The top two teams in the WSL earn an automatic berth into the state playoffs.
The Skiers will travel to Roaring Fork on Friday night, after first traveling to Coal Ridge on Tuesday. Their next home game is scheduled for Oct. 9 against Middle Park.
“This win is a big deal. We’ve got three or four tough conference games in a row now. You lose the first one or two and you really struggle then,” Francis said. “It was a good springboard. Hopefully we can push on from here and continue to improve.”
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