Basalt rolls in playoff soccer opener
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BASALT ” Who says 13 is an unlucky number?
Melissa Stewart, the Basalt soccer team’s dynamic No. 13, has been a blessing for the Longhorns this season. The senior’s heroics continued in Wednesday’s 3A state tournament opener against No. 22 Estes Park.
In her final game on home turf, Stewart scored three of her team’s four first-half goals. Eleventh-seeded Basalt tacked on two more in the final 40 minutes and its defense proved stingy in a 6-0 win over the Bobcats.
With the victory ” their first in the postseason since 2007, when they earned a semifinal berth ” the Longhorns advance to Saturday’s round of 16. They’ll take on sixth-seeded Manitou Springs, which blanked No. 27 Telluride, 6-0, in earlier action Wednesday.
“We came out with a lot of heart and intensity,” Basalt head coach Makenzie Eshelman said. “I think they just wanted it. … Now that they’re so close to their goal, they are very focused.”
It showed in the first 11 minutes, when the Longhorns raced out to a two-goal lead. Sophomore Alex Dewind broke a scoreless tie in the eighth minute, knocking home a well-placed corner kick from Annette Stenstadvold.
Stewart struck soon after. She sprinted in to snag a lazy attempted clear, took two steps and fired a laser into the right corner. She was just getting started.
In the 23rd minute, Stewart head-faked a defender, found some open space at the top of the box and got off a shot that ricocheted off the left post and sailed past the goal line.
With her back to the net in the final two minutes of the opening half, Stewart let a ball fall to her feet, spun quickly and scored in a crowd, tucking a ground ball into the bottom right corner. She has 36 goals this season.
“We started off strong ” that’s always the plan, especially when you’re playing a playoff game on your home turf,” Stenstadvold said.
“That first goal really calms your heart,” Eshelman added. “That second goal makes you feel that much better. … But I’m never really comfortable until that final whistle.”
There was little drama in the final 40 minutes. The Longhorns nearly scored in the opening minute. Later, they found the net twice to run away from the Bobcats, who came into the game riding a five-game win streak.
Katie King took on a defender on a run up the left side in the 52nd minute, then turned and fired a cross into the box. Teammate Ginevra Moore tracked down the pass in stride and scored on the far side.
After multiple near misses throughout the game, Stenstadvold finally found the back of the net in the 59th minute. The sophomore hit a spinning corner kick to the far post that appeared to bounce off an Estes Park defender.
“Our passing was phenomenal, and we found the corners finally,” Eshelman said. “We had a lot of control and patience.
“If we can keep up the intensity and passing, I think we can do well.”
David Stapleton is the development officer for the Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club. A product of the club, AVSC sat down with Stapleton for a Q&A session in this week’s Clubhouse Chronicles.