Basalt edges Coal Ridge, inches closer to Region 3 soccer crown
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
PEACH VALLEY, Colo. – Basalt goalkeeper Scott Riggins had a message for his teammates.
“Wake up, Basalt!” the senior shouted at his teammates with about 8 minutes, 20 seconds left in Tuesday’s boys soccer game at Coal Ridge. “Let’s go!”
Riggins’ teammates took the words to heart, breaking a scoreless tie some six minutes later, lifting the Longhorns to a 1-0 win over rival Coal Ridge on a warm Tuesday afternoon in Peach Valley.
Santiago Marciani nudged home the game-winning strike, alertly pouncing on a cross from teammate Sean Ryan.
“It bounced off one of my players and came right to me,” Marciani said. “I just kicked it in. It went right between the other player’s legs and just right into the corner.”
Ryan set up Marciani by knifing his way up the right side, carving his way through a cluster of Coal Ridge defenders. When he finally got a step on the defense, he sent a pass toward center.
“It’s a swamp on that side of the field, so I was looking for a way to get around and, hopefully, get a cross in,” Ryan said. “The last defender, he might have just slipped or something. I ran in and heard Willy [Salamanca] and Santi screaming for the ball. I saw the position of the goalie and tried to make the best cross I could.”
The sophomore’s cross did the trick.
“Willy went for the ball and put some weird spin on it,” Ryan said. “It went off some other player’s back heel and Santi was just in perfect position for the goal.”
And, with that goal, the Longhorns all but locked up the Class 3A Region 3 title. They’ll have to beat Vail Mountain at home Thursday to make it official.
Both sides knew a title would likely rest in the balance of Tuesday’s game.
“We knew the last couple weeks that, if we took care of the teams we had good luck against the first time we played against them, that it might come down to this,” Basalt co-head coach Brent Hayes said. “We figured it’d at least be for one of the top three seeds in the league. So, yeah, we knew this was always going to be a big game. We’re hoping now we don’t have a letdown against Vail.”
Since a 3-1, non-league defeat to Coal Ridge on Sept. 9, Basalt has had Tuesday’s rematch in mind.
“We’ve been thinking about this game since we lost to them the last time we met them,” Ryan said. “We’ve been practicing for it all week. We needed to put it all out on the line, and we did.”
The Longhorns improved to 9-3-1 overall and to 6-0-1 in Region 3 play. The postseason-bound Titans, now 13-1 and 6-1 in conference, saw a perfect season come to an end.
Coal Ridge coach Brian Blair, whose team finishes up the regular season with a Thursday visit from Rifle, hopes Tuesday’s defeat doesn’t derail the most successful season in his program’s history.
“If they’re going to let this game, which we lost by one goal to another excellent team, taint their season, I don’t think that does justice to everything they’ve done so far,” he said. “We’ve reached levels this program has not ever come close to.”
CARBONDALE – After a string of recent ties, Aspen head coach Junior Sutherland wondered aloud whether his squad would ever receive some lucky breaks.
The Skiers finally got one Tuesday in Carbondale, and now they appear to be a lock to reach the postseason. Aspen took a 1-0 halftime lead after an own goal from Colorado Rocky Mountain School, tacked on another score in the opening moments of the second half and held on for a 2-1 victory in its regular-season finale.
With the win, the Skiers improved to 5-4-6 overall and 3-1-4 in 3A Region 3, strengthening their hold on fourth place with just a few games remaining Thursday. Region 3’s top five squads will advance to postseason play, which begins next week.
“It was the same old story. We took control of the game but just couldn’t find the back of the net,” Sutherland said. “We got the win we needed.”
Aspen was the beneficiary of a fortunate bounce in the opening half; a defender tried to clear a cross from the Skiers’ Erik Wehse, but the ball wound up skipping over the CRMS keeper’s head and into the net, Sutherland said.
Wehse scored the old-fashioned way in the first 10 seconds of the second half, when he controlled a loose ball and launched a powerful blast from 35 yards out that clipped the net.
CRMS pulled to within one with about eight minutes remaining but could not produce the equalizer.
“I was thinking ‘Here we go again,'” joked Sutherland, whose squad came away with draws in its previous three games.
“I think we’re in now. We’ll know Sunday who we play. … Anything can happen in the playoffs.”
-By Jon Maletz
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