Basalt begins playoff push in Gypsum |

Basalt begins playoff push in Gypsum

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

GYPSUM, Colo. – Basalt co-head soccer coach Brent Hayes says his squad performs better when facing adversity. That theory will be tested Wednesday.

Despite clinching the 3A Region 3 title last week, the Longhorns garnered the 11th seed in the state tournament. Compounding matters, their first-round home playoff game has been moved for a second-consecutive season because of inclement weather.

Basalt will square off with No. 22 Salida at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Eagle Valley High School in Gypsum.

“This is just another obstacle in what has been a crazy year,” Hayes said Tuesday.

The 2010 season has been a eventful one for Basalt. The Longhorns opened with a forfeit (a few players who suited up were later deemed ineligible), experienced a coaching change midseason and ended with a late push to seal the league crown on the final day of the regular season.

Basalt, which finished 10-3-1, was hoping to be rewarded when the state brackets were released Sunday. (The Longhorns were seeded sixth a season ago, when they advanced to the quarterfinals for a third-straight year.)

“That third loss really doesn’t look that good. Unfortunately, that’s what held us back from getting a better seed,” Hayes conceded. “We were hoping for better. … Assuming we beat a team from probably the best league in the state, we go [on to play] No. 6 [St. Mary’s]. I’m not looking forward to it.”

Basalt will square off with a Salida squad that finished 7-6 overall and 2-3 in a talented Region 2 that is sending four teams to state – including two of the tournament’s top four seeds (No. 1 Colorado Springs Christian and No. 4 The Classical Academy).

“[Co-head coach] Jackie [Vosler] and I are nervous just because of who this team has played,” Hayes said of the Spartans. “It’s always hard going in against a team you know nothing about. You’re searching the Internet looking for little nuggets of information as far as teams in common that you’ve played. There was none.”

The Longhorns were expecting to receive a boost from home-field advantage. Now, they will be squaring off some 50 miles from home.

Last season, Basalt’s opener against Telluride was moved to Aspen because of snow.

Talk of moving today’s game to Aspen was discussed, but the turf would not have been available until after 6 p.m. because of Skiers football practice.

“A high of 25 in Aspen didn’t sound that great,” Hayes joked. “It’s always been the philosophy that weather tends to bridge the gap between different talent levels, and so you typically try and shy away from that.

“We know Aspen. … We know the field, we know the lights. So I was torn. … The team was split. I was split.”

The move could end up being beneficial; the Longhorns were 5-3 at home and 6-0-1 on the road during the regular season.

“We got complacent at home for whatever reason,” Hayes said. “It seemed like every time we were on the road we relaxed a little more, which is key for this team. They can get pretty hyper and start booting the ball. … I think we just play better when we’re away from the distractions.”

While practicing in the gym Monday and Tuesday was far from ideal, Hayes said he expects the Longhorns to be ready.

“If we play the way we’re capable of playing, I have no doubt we’ll come away with the win,” he said. “We’ll be fine as long as we maintain our focus and stay calm.”

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