Basalt, Aspen boys soccer play to chilly tie
The Aspen Times
BASALT — Nil-nil. Zero-zero.
Thursday afternoon’s hotly contested 0-0 tie in boys soccer left the Basalt Longhorns and the Aspen Skiers cold. Very cold.
The numbing tie, after 80 minutes of regulation and two 10-minute overtimes, sent the Aspen and Basalt boys soccer teams through the post-match handshake line with a contrast in chilly emotions.
“It’s frustrating when you’re not … at your best in a game that you needed,” Basalt head coach Brent Hayes said. “And that’s a game we needed. So, it is disappointing when that doesn’t happen.”
The 0-0 on the scoreboard, however, was far from frustrating for Aspen head coach Dave Francis.
“We knew we would spend a good percentage of the game defending hard,” Francis said. “They are a very, very good team. They are very fast with very good players up top.”
With a focus on slowing down Basalt’s high-speed, attacking offense, the Skiers dug in on defense.
“That’s possibly one of the best defensive performances I’ve seen,” Francis said, crediting the under-pressure back-line play of Max Marolt, Connor Peirce, Nikkko Wehse and Sunday Abarca in front of goalkeeper Charlie Van Allen.
“The boys played tremendously against an excellent side,” the Aspen head coach said after the Skiers withstood an onslaught of 23 shots from the Longhorns.
But the shots, in spite of the big number, only added to the frustration for the Longhorns.
“It’s frustrating … in that we kept playing into (Aspen’s) strength … winning in the midfield, which is what they did all game,” Hayes said.
The result for the Longhorns was a barrage of long-range and off-target shots, pressured by the pesky Skiers defense.
“Anyone can do the long ball across the top,” Hayes said. “But their defense is way too good … too stout and too fast. Aspen has a really quick, compressed defense.”
Basalt’s best shots from Juan Abrego, Omar Contreras, Ivan Loya and the rest of the Longhorns eventually were turned back by the Skiers defense and keeper Van Allen.
While the Skiers offered only nine shots against Basalt, the offerings from Joel Brice, John Heaphey and Jorge Esparaza tested the Basalt defense, led by Ivano Del Piccolo and goalkeeper Adrian Lujan.
“Obviously, stopping the PK was huge,” Basalt coach Hayes said of Lujan, who made the save of the match early in the second half after the Skiers drew a foul in the penalty area.
Brice lined up the shot for Aspen.
Lujan broke left immediately, diving low to save the PK for his ecstatic Basalt teammates.
“He made a heckuva save,” Hayes said after the Longhorns moved to 2-3-1 in conference, 8-4-1 overall.
Aspen, coming off back-to-back wins, moved to 2-3-1 in conference, 3-8-1 overall.
“Aspen is a far-improved team,” the Basalt coach said after the hard-hitting match that drew a number of yellow cards. “Their new coach has invigorated their program. I told him (in the handshake line), it’s nice to have them back. It helps to have games like this in our league every week.”
Basalt will close out league play Saturday at Vail Mountain School.
Aspen will host Grand Valley on Tuesday afternoon.
“Our boys played hard,” the Basalt head coach said. “They just didn’t play the game they needed to play, unfortunately.”
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