Basalt girls open playoffs at home |

Basalt girls open playoffs at home

Basalt's Stephanie Kemp, left, and natalie Hood, right, converge to stop Aspen's Lindsay Patterson from scoring a first half goal Saturday afternoon May 4, 2002. Basalt defeated Aspen 3-2 to finish a perfect season. Paul Conrad photo.

Basalt hosts and Aspen totes in the opening round of the Class 3A girls soccer state playoffs this week.

Basalt, the No. 2 seed in the field of 16 qualifiers, hosts No. 15 Ridgway on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. at the BHS field. Meanwhile, No. 11 Aspen travels to face No. 6 Academy of Charter on Friday at 7 p.m. at Five Star Stadium in Denver.

In the playoff format, higher-seeded teams host first- and second-round games until only four teams remain. The semifinals and finals will be played at neutral sites in Denver, on May 16 and May 18, respectively.

At 13-1, Basalt looks to press further into the postseason than the two previous seasons. The four-time defending 3A Western Slope League champions advanced to the round of eight in 2000 and then to the final four last season. Both times, the Lady Longhorns were stopped by Denver Christian.

BHS coach Heather Walker said she doesn’t know too much about Ridgway, though she expects to run into No. 7 D’Evelyn should Basalt get a win.

“D’Evelyn isn’t a real lucky pick for us,” Walker said of the Denver-area school that faces No. 10 Fountain Valley in the first round. “We know D’Evelyn’s going to be a really tough game, but if we can’t beat ’em, there’s no point in going to Denver anyway.”

Should Basalt and D’Evelyn win their opening-round matches, Basalt will host D’Evelyn next week. “Rather than having two easy games in the opening rounds, that game will end up helping us,” Walker said, “if we win.

“We haven’t been playing up to our potential lately, and we need to get there before we meet D’Evelyn,” she continued. “We’ve made some changes defensively, and hopefully we’ll get those problems fixed against Ridgway.”

Aspen, 8-5 on the season, is up against a relative unknown in Academy of Charter. The Denver-area school enters the playoffs unbeaten at 15-0, while Aspen enters the postseason following a narrow 3-2 loss to Basalt in the regular-season finale on Saturday.

“If we can compete against the No. 2 team in the state, there’s no reason we can’t go down there and compete against No. 6. If the girls played like they did Saturday, we’ll be all right,” said Aspen co-coach Grant “Junior” Sutherland.

“We’ve got nothing to lose. We’ll go down and have fun and see what happens. We’ve played well all season, when we’ve played to our potential,” he added.

Aspen plans to practice as usual through Thursday in Aspen before traveling east to Denver Friday morning.

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