Basalt boys soccer starts season with firsts
The Aspen Times
The Basalt High School boys soccer team kicked off the new season with a pair of firsts.
The Longhorns, for the first time in school history, won two back-to-back matches on the storied field at Kent Denver.
And, for the first time, the Longhorns won a huge, playoff-caliber matchup against Kent Denver on Kent’s own field.
“To tell you the truth, I didn’t really know what to expect,” head coach Brent Hayes said of the new-edition Longhorns, who lost 16 seniors to graduation last year. “We only have four kids back from the … varsity.”
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But, he said, the new players stepped in and the Basalt boys opened the season with a 2-1 win over Denver Christian and a stunning 1-0 victory over tournament host Kent Denver.
“To win one of the two games would have been a successful weekend, but to win two games was a little unexpected,” Hayes said, adding that his youthful team wasn’t in awe of the Kent Denver soccer reputation.
“We’ve lost some big games in Denver on that field,” Hayes said.
“Kent always expects to win their own tournament,” he said of the annual Sun Devil Invitational.
But this year, Basalt won the tournament title.
“The boys played loose. In the first 10 minutes, I think they realized they could play with (Kent Denver),” Hayes said.
The lone goal against Kent Denver came two-thirds of the way through the first half. Freshman Enrique Rodriguez slotted the ball through to sophomore Matt Anderson, who beat the defense down the left side.
He scored, and the Longhorns protected the one-goal difference all through the second half.
“In the last 20 minutes, we were down a player with a red card … to add to the drama,” Hayes said.
Goalie Adrian Lujan secured the victory for the Longhorns with a handful of key saves.
“He came up huge. He came out into traffic to get the ball. … He was fearless,” Hayes said of the junior keeper.
In the earlier math against Denver Christian, Ivan Loya scored on a penalty kick for the Longhrons. Bonilla Eber added the second goal in the 2-1 victory.
The Basalt defense was led by Darwin Ovellana.
“He took their best player of the game (with his defense). He’s tenacious, and he’s got an edge,” Hayes said, adding that the Longhorns will face a major challenge at 4 p.m. today when rival Roaring Fork visits Basalt.
“If I were to pick a team, a preseason favorite in the league, I would say it’s (the Rams),” Hayes said. “Their main squad is intact (from last year). And they’ve played together since they were freshmen.
“This is every bit the challenge of the Denver teams,” Hayes said. “This has become our biggest rivalry.”
He said the 2-0 Longhorns have a lot of room for improvement and they’ll have to manage a thin roster.
“They play hard,” he said. “And they are good at adapting to any position I put them in.”
He said that versatility will be the key with a limited roster.
The Longhorns, he said, are happy to open the home season.
“Those two-a-days get old. We’re looking forward to playing (matches),” Hayes said.
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