Basalt gets helping hands in win

Nate Peterson
Basalt's Maddie Hoffman narrowly misses a goal in the first half Wednesday at home against VMS. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)

Basalt’s girls soccer team hasn’t had any trouble scoring goals this season. Visiting Vail Mountain School made sure that trend continued Wednesday by handing the third-ranked Longhorns two free goals off free kicks in a 6-0 Basalt win.The league-leading Longhorns (8-0-1 overall, 6-0 Western Slope 3A) jumped out to a 4-0 lead at the half, then took advantage of two of three VMS hand-ball penalties in the second half to add the final two scores. “It’s a shame to make those kinds of mistakes, but you understand that nobody’s doing it on purpose,” VMS coach Bob Bandoni said. “They put so much pressure on us, that it’s understandable that those mistakes are going to be forced.”It could have been worse for the Gore Rangers, if not for the aggressive play of goalie Cely Brinkman, who finished with 22 saves. Brinkman also had luck on her side a few times. In the first half, Basalt’s Bailey Holmes had a point-blank header on an empty net, but the ball hit the crossbar, then bounced to the ground before a VMS defender cleared. Basalt’s Maddie Hoffman also nailed the crossbar on a penalty kick after the first VMS hand-ball violation in the second half.

On the next two free kicks, Brinkman wouldn’t be so fortunate. Basalt midfielder Jessi Graf converted both – lofting a shot over a wall of VMS defenders and Brinkman’s head on a direct kick, then drilling an uncontested penalty kick past Brinkman in the 67th minute for the final score. Graf also scored at the end of the first half off an assist from Brittany Guglielmo to finish with a hat trick. Vail Mountain’s Kelsey Peck was whistled for the final two hand-balls when the large cast on her right arm got in the way. After the game, Bandoni praised his keeper’s effort.”She’s so strong,” Bandoni said. “She anchors us. We actually build around her, because she gives us so much. She’s so good that we can allow ourselves a larger margin of error. She lets us play a little higher and a little tighter because she can handle more of the field than most high school goalies.”While Brinkman found herself in the line of fire for 80 minutes, Longhorns goalie Dayne Toney spent another afternoon working on her tan. Toney had one save and touched the ball a total of five times.

Basalt coach Chris Woods explained after the game how he keeps his players hustling, even when up by five goals or more. In five games since a 1-1 tie with Denver Christian on April 8, the Longhorns have scored 33 goals while allowing just one.”You promise them a hard practice the next day if they let up,” Woods said. “I want them to play hard regardless of the score.””With these kinds of games, it’s a good way to work on things,” Graf added. “There’s always room to improve on things. Sometimes we get a little too ahead of ourselves and that’s when you get sloppy. We refocused at halftime and came out and played hard.”Holmes scored the first goal in the second minute. Junior Katie Staerkel had a good shot on goal after a corner kick but opted to flick a pass to Holmes, who finished the play.Staerkel then scored the next two goals. The first came in the 23rd minute off a rebound; the second in the 32nd minute, after Staerkel paused in front of the net to gauge Brinkman’s location before blasting a shot into the top left corner of the net.

With the win, the Longhorns can now turn their focus to Saturday’s rematch at rival Aspen. The Longhorns won the first meeting, 7-0.”It was a good test today,” Woods said. “Vail hustled really well. Pretty much the whole team played defense, and they countered very quickly. … Their goalie played out of her shell and made some great saves.”We’re looking forward to Saturday’s game. We’ll definitely be ready for Aspen.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is