Basalt boys run over Paonia in Western Slope opener |

Basalt boys run over Paonia in Western Slope opener

Nate Peterson
Basalt's Ryan Zubizarreta dribbles the ball past Paonia's goalkeeper for a shot Tuesday afternoon. Zubizarreta had two goals and two assists in the Longhorns' 9-1 win. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

The uniforms are new, as is the head coach, and there are nine new starters on the field following the loss of 11 players to graduation.But one thing remains the same: Basalt’s boys soccer team is still the squad to beat in the 3A Western Slope.Paonia found that out the hard way Tuesday at Basalt with a 9-1 loss in the league opener for both teams. The win for Basalt followed a weekend in Denver where the new-look Longhorns team proved it still deserves to be mentioned among the best in the state.Basalt knocked off sixth-ranked Denver Christian, 2-0, on Friday, before falling to third-ranked Kent Denver, 3-0, on Saturday.The Longhorns (1-0 league, 2-1 overall) were seventh in the Rocky Mountain News 3A rankings before the start of the weekend, but will assuredly move up after the win against the Crusaders.

New Longhorns coach John McDermott was worried about a letdown against Paonia after the two tough games over the weekend, but his team came to play Tuesday.Longhorns’ senior Ryan Zubizaretta had two goals in the first half and one assist on a score from sophomore Kevin Newland. Sophomore Marshal Cleavland knocked home Basalt’s first goal 15 minutes into the match when junior Matt Whittier passed an overhead ball to him for a breakaway. “I’m not too sure with the history with each team and I just have to take each game one at a time,” said McDermott. “We were really up for those two games in Denver. It was a little hard getting up for today, but it’s my job to get them up for every game.”Paonia’s lone goal came from Ruben Franco at the end of the first half after Basalt had taken a 4-0 lead.In the second half, the Longhorns got two goals from senior Trevor Brown – both off assists from sophomore Austin Johnson – and a goal and an assist from junior John Peckler.Basalt’s final goal came from senior Matt Klahn in the 80th minute off an assist from Reto Luzi. Luzi started in goal, but shed his goalie’s jersey and gloves to play in the field in the middle of the second half once the game was in hand.

The goals and assists from multiple players showed Basalt’s versatility, Zubizaretta said. He noted that last year’s team was at times too dependent on Felipe Sanchez, the co-MVP of the league who led Basalt in scoring the previous two seasons.”I think that’s probably one of the advantages of our team this year is that we have a bunch of people who can score,” he said. “If the other team guards one kid, we’re not shut down. We have a ton of different options.”Still, even with the lopsided score, Zubizaretta found blemishes in the win. The young Longhorns still have plenty of things to work out, he said.”I don’t think the team was very satisfied with the victory. I don’t think we’re playing to our potential right now. We’ve got a lot of potential that we can build on, but we’re not there yet,” he said. “To tell you the truth, I think we came out feeling like we played pretty well this weekend. We thought this game was going to be a lot easier. I don’t think we played to our full potential, but we seem to be not playing down to teams right now.”McDermott said he was most pleased by his team’s effort in Saturday’s loss to the Sun Devils, who knocked Basalt out of the 3A playoffs last year in the semifinal round. The Sun Devils went on to lose in the championship game to Peak to Peak Academy.Basalt trailed only 1-0 before a vicious collision between starters Tyler Stevens and Kyle Wood.

Stevens left the game with a broken nose, Wood with a slight concussion. The injuries left the Longhorns in a state of disarray for a bit, which allowed the Sun Devils to punch in their second goal, McDermott saidHad it not been for the collision, the outcome might have been different.”We ended up losing 3-0, but we played with them,” the coach said. “It was an intense game. [The collision] broke us down for a little bit, but we were coming back the whole time.”Wood played Tuesday, while Stevens – with two black eyes – walked the sidelines in street clothes. Stevens is expected to find out this week how soon he will be able to return to the field, McDermott said.The Longhorns play next Saturday at Coal Ridge at 11 a.m.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is

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