Basalt girls blank Bayfield in state soccer opener
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BASALT – Midfielder Annette Stenstadvold was knocked down, but not out. Good thing for Basalt.
The senior was shaken up after a shot drilled her face in the waning minutes of the first half in Wednesday’s 3A playoff opener against No. 21 Bayfield on a blustery afternoon at Basalt High School. She stayed in the game, however, and helped the Longhorns seal a fifth opening-round win in the last seven years.
No. 12 Basalt overcame some early nerves, and Stenstadvold found the net in the 58th minute to propel her team to a 2-0 win and a berth in the Round of 16.
The Longhorns will travel to the Front Range on Saturday to take on No. 5 Peak to Peak. The Pumas pounded No. 28 Sterling, 7-0, in first-round action Tuesday.
“I think we’re off to a good start,” Stenstadvold said as she dabbed ice on her swollen right eye.
“That first half was a little slow. We were a little nervous … playing on our home field and having high expectations. We just weren’t clicking.”
Basalt (11-2-3), which routed Estes Park, 6-0, in last year’s playoff opener, controlled the tempo from the outset Wednesday. Still, it struggled to string together passes and capitalize on open looks around the Wolverines’ net.
As she headed for the bench, visibly frustrated forward Noel Chiarelli told coaches she was having trouble finding open space in which to maneuver.
She had no such problems in the 26th minute.
Teammate Julia Kaputska hit Stenstadvold in stride with a long throw-in, then Stenstadvold sprinted up the far sideline and lofted a cross into the box; Chiarelli one-timed the ball past Bayfield goalkeeper Jaylie Ross.
“They were bigger, faster, stronger,” said Wolverines head coach Jen Zelinski, whose team was blanked by Coal Ridge, 4-0, in last year’s opening round. “They were a better team. I told the girls all I could ask for was for them to go out and try their hardest. … I think we out-hustled them.”
That effort produced a prime scoring chance minutes before halftime. Lilli Laine found some open space right of the net and fired a hard shot that clipped the crossbar and appeared to graze the goal line before being knocked out of harm’s way.
“That would’ve totally changed the game,” Zelinski said.
“I think we were a little tight for pretty much that whole half,” Longhorns head coach Makenzie Eshelman added. “That was my team in the second half. … They were being aggressive and being in control.”
And firing at will on Ross, who recorded 20 saves – a handful of them on acrobatic diving plays.
Bayfield (8-5), making its third postseason appearance in program history, could muster just five shots on net.
The Longhorns made one of their chances count in the 58th minute, when Stenstadvold made a quick move to her right, reversed course and ripped a liner from just outside the box that clipped the net.
“I think our passing really set up a lot of good chances.” Eshelman said.
“[The goals] will come as long as we’re taking shots,” Stenstadvold added.
Two scores proved to be enough on this day, as Basalt’s defense thrived despite playing with a back-up goalkeeeper and without one of its leaders, Alexa Aitken, who suffered a knee injury in Thursday’s regular-season finale.
The Longhorns will likely need a better offensive effort if they are to upset Peak to Peak on the road.
“We can’t have missteps against a team like that,” Eshelman said.
X Games is officially on. We’ll be updating as soon as the final results are in.