Aspen survives scare in double OT
One hundred and one minutes. Two full halves, one full overtime period and six minutes of a second.That’s a long time to keep the home crowd in limbo, but Aspen’s girls made sure it was worth it Thursday. The Skiers are moving on to the 3A state soccer tournament, thanks to Emily Hassall’s goal in the 101st minute, which pushed Aspen past scrappy Colorado Springs Christian in a state-seeding game.”Wow,” Hassall said while trying to catch her breath after the win. “I can’t even remember what happened. The ball just floated over my head, and it was a nice ball to tap in.”The Lions, who finished fifth in the 14-team Tri-Peaks conference, end the season 9-6. Aspen (14-1 overall) will find out its first-round opponent Sunday after the state-seeding committee sets the bracket.Aspen coach Jon Gillies expects the Skiers, who finished second to Basalt in the 3A Western Slope with an identical 11-1 league record, to get a first-round home game.”We should get seeded in the top eight, and if we do we’ll have a home match,” Gillies said. “Basalt is going to be seeded third or fourth. They’re the only team that’s beaten us, and we beat them. We’ve only given up one goal at home. We should be seeded somewhere near Basalt.”Aspen hasn’t lost at home this season, although that was in jeopardy against the Lions. Colorado Springs Christian had two shots bounce of the post in the second half, and had many other shots either sail wide or into the hands of Aspen goalie Carly Magill, who finished with 13 saves.Arguably the most tense moment of the game came in the final minute of the second half. The Lions’ Daniella Leonard made a rush on goal while sandwiched between Aspen’s Maggie Melberg and Elyse Boelens, who was whistled for a push at the edge of the goal box.If Leonard had been in the box, the Lions would have had a penalty kick. Instead, the Skiers faced a direct kick from outside the box, and Magill scooped up the ensuing shot from Anna Eskew.The tension continued to mount in overtime. The Skiers outshot the Lions in both extra periods but didn’t escape without a few close calls. A Lions breakaway in the first minute of the second overtime scared Hassall, one of six Skiers seniors. Suddenly, the possibility of the season ending was very real, she said.”It was tense,” she said. “They had their breakaway, and almost a shot on goal. It just kind of brought me down. But we all kept each other up. We all kept each other elevated and equal and sane. We’ve not lost on our field, and we weren’t about to.”With the sun nearly behind the horizon, and with players from both teams fighting through fatigue, a shootout appeared inevitable.Aspen continued to make runs on goal, but the Lions defenders refused to give away clean looks, and weak legs led to poor shots.Then it happened: Aspen freshman Brittany Marrs drove down the left sideline, before passing to DeVore, who opted against a shot with her left foot and instead lofted a pass over Hassall’s head. Hassall didn’t get much on the ensuing shot, but it was enough to float over the hands of Lions goalie Brooklyn Chase.”Amazing,” DeVore said. “I don’t know, I just saw the ball coming and I went for it and Em was there to get it. I saw her running in.””That’s John Wayne stuff,” Gillies said. “True grit. The girls just dug in. It was ding-dong all the way. [Colorado Springs Christian was] a great team. They lost four games in their league, and all by one goal, so we knew they weren’t letting many goals in. We just had to wait and try and break through. We knew it would be difficult.”When the ball hit the back of the net, the home stands erupted, and teammates quickly swarmed Hassall. The chain reaction was just as pronounced for the opposing team; a number of Lions players dropped to their knees, including Chase, who had to be consoled by head coach Stu Davis as she walked off the field in tears. “It’s kind of the essence of the game,” Davis said before his team hopped on the bus for the long drive back to the Springs. “You get in these situations and there’s not a whole lot you can do about it. Sometimes it’s yours and sometimes it’s not yours. Today, it certainly wasn’t ours. … I think we had a lot of heart, and just our willingness to not go home as losers of this game really drove us to continue to play. It just didn’t go our way this time.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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Katelyn Maley’s trophy shelf is getting quite crowded. The Basalt High School junior added to her collection on Saturday by winning the Class 3A girls 800-meter run at the CHSAA state championship meet at Jefferson County Stadium.