Basalt puts nine on all-league teams
BASALT Pick a Longhorn, any Longhorn.For opposing 3A Western Slope coaches who watched Basalt run roughshod over their teams during the regular season, that was the mindset at the recent all-league meeting.Basalt players occupied nine of the 22 spots for the two all-league teams, including five on the first team. The voting for the league’s player of the year was close – but only between Basalt’s top two goal-scorers. Junior midfielder Kat Fitzpatrick, a first-team selection and all-state honorable mention in 2006, edged out senior forward Katie Staerkel, the Slope’s player of the year in 2005.Basalt coach Chris Woods wondered if nine post-season awards was enough, considering his team’s mastery of league foes. In 10 games, Basalt outscored Western Slope teams 54-5 and opened conference play with five shutouts.”If I had to pick 11 girls, I’d take my starting 11,” said Woods, the league’s coach of the year. “The main thing is, we changed the format this year where we all agreed that, for an all-league team, we need to pick the 11 best players in the league. If you could pick a forward, who would you pick? In the midfield, who would you pick? It’s the best players at their positions, and if anyone is disgruntled about who made it, they’re out of their head. We could’ve gotten even more girls on there.”
Fitzpatrick had 18 goals and 13 assists for the Longhorns, and was at her best when Staerkel missed a string of games with an ankle injury.”I didn’t expect it,” Fitzpatrick said. “There’s so many great people I’ve played with, and I was just really surprised that the coaches chose me.”Whether it was me, Melissa [Stewart] or Katie, I think any of us would have deserved it. Katie was happy for me and said I deserved it.”Staerkel led the Longhorns in goals (21) and tied for fourth in assists (nine), in spite of drawing double-teams for most of the season. She benefited from the emergence of first-teamers Fitzpatrick and Stewart, the sophomore forward who led Basalt with 14 assists and added 15 goals.”She’s been a dream kid to coach,” Woods said. “It’s going to be pretty sad when she’s not going to be here, especially for all the kids who looked up to her and learned from her. Melissa was leaps and bounds better this year, just from playing with her. Katie’s just always been consistent.”Fitzpatrick agreed. “I’ve been looking up to her while playing with her for the last three years,” she said. “It was different without her, but because I had learned so much from her, it was easy to take what I learned and step up.”
Senior stopper Emily Birk and junior sweeper Amy Brumet were the two other first-teamers – proof that opposing coaches weren’t enamored just with Basalt’s explosive offensive trio.Woods called both players the “linchpins” of a dominating defense that allowed just eight goals during the regular season.”Our whole defense was based around those two,” he said. “Everyone says Basalt’s a big scoring power and scores 70 goals a year, but it was really good to see them get some recognition.”Birk, who had two goals and an assist, was an intimidating presence in the middle. The senior took pride in shutting down the opposition’s best scorer and never shied from physical contact.”I’ve always said she’s a bull in the china shop,” Woods said. “She’s just a train threatening to come off the rails every single game. She’s so aggressive and talented.”Brumet, Woods said, was the Longhorns’ vocal leader on the field and someone who always “seemed to be in the right place at the right time.””She just has great instincts,” Woods said of the lone returner for Basalt’s back line next season. “Just a natural leader. She’s the one who structures the defense in the back.”
The defensive props didn’t end there.Senior defender Bailey Holmes and junior goalie Dayne Toney made the second team, joining senior midfielder Alyssa Leslie and junior midfielder Alia Munger.Holmes, a volleyball standout, was a reliable defender and one of the strongest players on Basalt’s roster – evidenced by her powerful throw-ins and corner kicks. Toney might have earned first-team honors if she didn’t play behind such a great defense, Woods said.Munger quietly finished with seven goals and 11 assists – the best offensive statistics behind the big three. As for Leslie, Woods said she was the team’s most improved player for the job she did filling in for Jessi Graf, the 2006 Slope player of the year who sat out the season. “She had some big shoes to fill, and it was awesome to see her step up,” Woods said.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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