Aspen soccer stays hot despite the cold |

Aspen soccer stays hot despite the cold

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad The Aspen Times

ASPEN ” Aspen turned up the heat.

On a day more suited for boots than soccer cleats, the Skiers girls overcame frigid temperatures, frequent snow and the defense of visiting Roaring Fork. Sophomore Abbi Cook picked up a hat trick ” she scored twice in the first seven minutes ” and Aspen led, 5-0, after 40 minutes and never looked back in an 8-1 rout.

“We’re scoring goals, which is good,” Skiers coach John Gillies said. “Most teams we’ve come up against haven’t had practice outside. That gives us an advantage.”

The Skiers dominated Saturday’s opener, blanking Rangely, 6-0. That trend continued early Tuesday when Aspen flooded the Rams’ zone and Cook finished on consecutive crosses.

Julia Hassall, who scored four times Saturday, stretched the lead to three, 20 minutes in, when she paused in the middle of the field, wound up and fired a shot that deflected off the right post and into the net.

The senior seemed poised to score again in the 34th minute when she pushed the ball up the right side, but, when a defender vacated the middle to try to halt the rush, Hassall alertly passed back to a wide-open Lizzy Eastley. The junior lofted a shot that narrowly sailed over the keeper’s outstretched gloves.

The Skiers showcased their depth, as senior Maggie Melberg became the fourth to score before the break. She hit a spinner from 25 yards out that caught the Rams keeper out of position.

“I’m happy with this squad,” Gillies said. “There’s not a player I put on the field that I don’t have confidence in.”

The onslaught continued in the second half, in which Aspen scored three more times and had two other apparent goals called off because of offsides and obstruction calls.

Haley Rinaldi, who appeared trapped deep in the corner in the 48th minute, managed to feed Melberg with a crisp pass; Melberg crossed the ball into the box, and Cook was positioned perfectly to pick up the hat trick.

“They were kind of lucky goals,” she said.

Aspen’s defense, which has been unyielding in the first two games, had just one lapse Tuesday ” it produced Roaring Fork’s first shot and its only goal in the 60th minute.

“Goals are scored when defenses make a mistake,” Gillies said. “If we had only one mistake in an 80-minute game, that’s not bad.”

Aspen responded quickly. Senior Brittany Marrs scored off a deflection four minutes later. And, in the 73rd minute, Hassall found the net once more after Cook fumbled her chance for a fourth goal.

After a 2007 season that ended in anguish ” a loss in the last game of the regular season shattered Aspen’s post-season hopes ” the Skiers are off and running after two 3A Western Slope victories. They travel to Vail on Monday.

“For the first time, we’re getting a bit of pride back,” Gillies said. “Last year, not going to state was a kick in the teeth. It wasn’t fun. … This is a great way to start.”


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