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Aspen soccer survives OT thriller

Michael Appelgate
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jon Maletz/The Aspen TimesSkiers junior Yosaline Ayala celebrates after slipping a shot past Roaring Fork goalkeeper Madison Handy in the 24th minute Tuesday at Aspen High School.
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ASPEN – With time winding down in the second overtime against visiting Roaring Fork on Tuesday, Aspen’s Yosaline Ayala corralled the ball 18 yards in front of the goal.

Seeing a clear path to the net, she unleashed a shot into the upper right corner just beyond the goalkeeper’s outstretched arms, clinching a 2-1 Skiers victory – their second straight to open the season.

“Yosaline is phenomenal,” Aspen head coach John Gillies said. “We moved her up from JV last year, and she has really stepped up and shown commitment. We’ve been scoring a lot from outside the box.”

After surrendering a goal in the fourth minute, Ayala evened the score in the 24th minute as she sneaked past the defense on the left side and found herself one-on-one with Rams goalkeeper Madison Handy.

The goal was a relief for Gillies, who thought his team looked tired on the pitch.

“I’m not sure what it was, maybe the first game of the season on this field,” Gillies said. “We shot ourselves in the foot. We looked very tired, and this field sort of drowned us a little bit. This is the first game of three this week, and we can learn from this.”

Skiers goalkeeper Sally McGuren kept the score knotted with a diving save in the final minutes of the first half.

“Sally is a great goalkeeper,” Gillies said. “The defense with Areanna Gallant was phenomenal. All three of them in the back were great. I thought we were a little bit lacking in the midfield today.”

Both teams struggled with controlling the ball on the first touch. Few scoring chances were created as midfielders turned the ball over on passing and dribbling miscues.

“Credit to Roaring Fork, they pressurized us and closed us down really well,” Gillies said. “They did a great job in crowding us. People were just moving out of position and chasing the ball. We weren’t patient enough.”

In the second half, the Skiers had chances but couldn’t capitalize. In the 64th minute, the Rams initially could not clear the ball on a corner kick, but Aspen couldn’t generate a clean shot.

Regulation ended with Skiers forward Annie Graber firing a shot just over the crossbar.

The Skiers met at midfield before the first extra period to discuss what they had do to scrap out a win.

“We were just talking about how we need to talk more to each other,” Ayala said. “We needed to pass more and work as a team. That’s how we got it done.”

After squandering an opportunity to end the game off a corner in the first overtime, Ayala finally connected in the 88th minute.

“We have terrific goal-scorers,” Gillies said. “So we’re not worried about conceding goals because we always know we can score them.”

Aspen hosts rival Basalt at 4 p.m. Thursday.

mappelgate@aspentimes.com


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