Basalt High girls soccer pulls out surprise 2-2 draw with No. 4 Aspen
There was nothing pretty about the start of the season for the Basalt High School girls soccer team. Other than a win at Roaring Fork on April 6, the Longhorns struggled en route to a 1-8-1 start under first-year coach Kate McBride.
That stretch included a 5-0 home loss to Aspen, a state semifinalist from a year ago.
Basalt has looked a touch better over the past four games, however.
“We had our troubles and it was a lot of change in the beginning of the season, including me. I’m brand new to this,” McBride said. “We had difficulty getting purchase of our feet and getting grounded. Then we pulled it together and we started working as a team and it was just obvious. We are much stronger together.”
Basalt entered Friday’s non-league matchup against Aspen as winners of three straight games, but its 2-2 draw against the Skiers on the AHS turf Friday night was arguably its best result of the season.
Aspen, ranked No. 4 in Class 3A, saw its nine-game win streak come to an end on senior day.
“It was a good game and going into playoffs it’s what we needed to keep the fire going, because the games coming up are going to be tough,” AHS assistant coach Michele Gray said. “Basalt came out with the desire to bring a good game, and they did. They stepped up and played well. We had a lot of opportunities that we missed.”
Aspen played out of character for most of the first half but kept Basalt off the scoreboard until senior Stella Scott scored with about six minutes to go and gave the Longhorns a surprising 1-0 lead at halftime.
That score held until near the midway point of the second half when Aspen’s Emily Brenninger scored to make it a 1-1 game. Only five minutes later, Basalt retook the lead thanks to a goal by freshman Lexi Lowe.
“That was huge,” McBride said. “What I teach these girls, and not just on the soccer field but hopefully they can carry it over to life, it’s not the mistake you make, it’s what you do with the situation thereafter. So they rallied.”
The Skiers had one more answer in them. It came from the foot of sophomore midfielder Grace Romero, who had only re-entered the game moments before after a bloody nose sent her to the sidelines. Her rainbow shot from about 25 yards out with 15 minutes to play made it 2-2, a score that would hold through two 10-minute overtime periods.
It was the final game of the regular season for Aspen, which finishes with an 11-2-1 record, barring a possible forfeit situation with a canceled game against Middle Park earlier in the week. As the Western Slope League champions and with an RPI in the top five as of Friday night, the Skiers are safely in the playoffs and are all but guaranteed to host a first-round playoff game next week.
“We showed that our team can come together when the pressure is on and that’s what we need for the playoffs,” Gray said. “When we play our game is when we execute and we just need to make sure our heads are in it right from the start.”
The tie might not make much of a difference for Aspen, but it could be huge for Basalt, which is sitting right on the playoff bubble. Now 4-8-2 overall, the Longhorns continued to sit just inside the top 30 of RPI as of Friday night. Only 32 teams make the postseason, and a top 32 RPI doesn’t necessarily guarantee a team a spot because of automatic qualifiers based off of league finishes.
“That was a good one. I think everybody stepped it up and played their minds out,” McBride said of the draw with Aspen. “The interesting thing about this rivalry is it’s a mental game as well as it is on the field with the feet. I couldn’t be prouder of the effort as a unified team. We’ve just grown so much and they’ve grown together.”
Basalt still has one game remaining, a home game Saturday morning against Class 5A Grand Junction (9-4-1). The Tigers gave Aspen one of its two losses when they beat the Skiers 4-0 on March 12 in Aspen’s season opener.
The state playoff brackets are expected to be announced Sunday.
Aspen boys lacrosse continues winning streak with win over Durango
The Aspen High School boys lacrosse team battled its way past Durango on Friday in a 14-7 win at Iselin Field. Leading 10-6 at halftime, the second half was marred by penalties but a strong defensive effort kept the Skiers safely ahead down the stretch.
Durango fell to 6-7 overall with the loss. Aspen also had beaten the Demons on April 19, winning that one 18-6.
The Skiers improved to 9-5 overall. It was their third straight win. AHS has one regular-season game remaining, a home matchup with Telluride at 2 p.m. Saturday on the AHS turf.
The Aspen girls lacrosse team will also host Telluride Saturday with a shot at an undefeated season at stake. The girls game will start shortly after noon on the AHS turf.
The long drives to Denver to play competitive club softball and fine-tune her skills during the offseason are paying off for Glenwood Springs High School senior Kiera Larson.