Basalt escapes Aspen with win
Aspen Times Staff Writer
The Basalt High School girls soccer team completed its first undefeated season in league play, and earned the No. 2 seed in the upcoming state playoffs, with a 3-2 victory over rival Aspen on Saturday.
And Aspen, in a performance that made up for a disastrous 7-1 loss to Basalt just three weeks ago, earned the No. 11 seed in the Class 3A state tournament, set to begin later this week.
Basalt, now the winner of 12 straight, improved to 13-1 overall and undefeated at 10-0 in Class 3A Western Slope League play, a first in school history. Last week, BHS clinched its fourth-straight league title. Aspen dropped to 8-5 overall.
In Saturday’s game in Aspen, the last of the regular season for both teams, a strong BHS squad took control early. However, it was AHS who surprised fans with the first goal of the day as senior Skier Lacee Patterson squeaked a shot by BHS goalie Autumn Caughern just 10 minutes into the game.
Basalt tied things up with a goal of its own 10 minutes later on a goal from junior Mariah Mulcahy. The Longhorns then missed a penalty shot for the lead, before the same situation helped AHS pull ahead at 31 minutes as Patterson scored her second goal.
In the final moments before halftime, Mulcahy netted her second goal of the half and tied the game at 2-2.
“You come into the second half with a different mentality when you lose a goal in those 30 seconds,” said AHS co-coach Junior Sutherland. “It’s hard to get yourselves back in the game.”
Sophomore Brittany Pollock scored the game-winner for Basalt on a chip shot that bounced over Gates and into the AHS goal just 10 minutes into the second half. The remainder of the game proved scoreless for both teams, but brought at least three injuries for a struggling AHS squad.
Less than 20 minutes into the half, Mulcahy tripped during a drive for the Aspen goal and knocked Gates, headfirst, into a steel goal post. Gates was helped off the field and, though her eye had swollen considerably by the end of Saturday’s game, her father reported to a worried crowd that she was “wobbly, but OK.” Two other Skiers suffered leg injuries within a minute of each other late in the game, but returned to play before the final whistle.
Sutherland said Saturday’s game saw a definite improvement on the last time the two rivals met.
“Basalt’s a good team, but they’re definitely playable,” Sutherland said. “We played them how we should have played them – we came out before the half and marked up their players, and we did a good job. We had a plan and we stuck to it, and it could have gone either way.”
Though BHS left the field Saturday with a win and a shot at a top playoff seed, coach Heather Walker reported the team was disappointed with the performance.
“We played terribly,” Walker said. “We usually have a lot more pass work upfront, but I guess they were a little rushed. Our whole team played pretty flat, so hopefully we can pick it up next week – and the girls know it, too, so they’ll be wanting to pick it up.
“It was a really bad game for us, but we’ll take the win. We’re just glad to have our bad game today and not later this week.”
Walker learned of the team’s No. 2 seed Sunday afternoon, when playoff brackets announced the Longhorns would face No. 15 seed Ridgway (7-6-1) on Thursday in the first round of the playoffs. A time for the game, which will be played in Basalt, will be set Monday afternoon.
“That’s good. That’s the spot we were hoping to get since the start of the season,” Walker said.
Aspen will play the undefeated and No. 6 seeded Academy of Charter (15-0) later this week in their first playoff match. Game times will be determined Monday afternoon.
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