Basalt boys dealt lesson in Denver soccer in opener
Aspen Times Staff Writer
After the Basalt High School boys soccer team concluded its finest season on record last fall, first-year coach Erik Streff opted for a more ambitious schedule this season.
And why not? Basalt went undefeated at 10-0 in the Class 3A Western Slope League for the first time in school history, and made a valiant push in the 3A state playoffs, advancing further than any Longhorn boys before them. When Basalt’s season ended at 14-4 overall in the final four of the tourney, it was at the hands of Front Range powerhouse Colorado Springs Christian.
“Last year I went down for the [state tournament] seeding meeting and they kept saying we needed more games with Denver-area teams to get a higher seeding; to show that the level of play is improving out here,” Streff said. “But it’s also for our kids, for the league, so they’re ready to go when we do see a Denver team in the playoffs again.”
On Saturday the BHS boys opened their 2002 campaign, against a Denver Metro League team no less. The occasion marked Basalt’s first meeting with a Denver-area team outside of the postseason.
And while Basalt received a harsh lesson in fast-paced, precision soccer in a 6-1 loss to Holy Family in Denver, Streff is confident the experience will pay dividends later this season.
“It didn’t go as well as expected,” he said, “but I think it helped the team realize that the quality of opponents there is very good. Holy Family is going to be a strong squad this year.
“We’re trying to take it one game at a time. You’ve got to learn from wins and losses, but a lot of times, you learn a lot more from a loss.”
After being blitzed for five goals in the first half, freshman Felipe Sanchez scored Basalt’s only goal in the second, assisted by sophomore Mitchell Reed.
Basalt lost five seniors to graduation, though Streff doesn’t see any gaping holes in his lineup either. “They’ve all had the experience,” he said. “I expect the players to step up again this year.”
On Thursday, Basalt plays at Palisade in another nonleague match before traveling to Eagle Valley Saturday to kickoff their league schedule. On Sept. 14, Basalt hosts Faith Christian, the Longhorns’ second and final Denver-area opponent of the regular season.
“A lot of the Denver teams play year-round, so it’s hard to compete with that, especially in an opening game. But over the years, we’ve shown that we can compete at that level, that we want to compete at that level.”
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