Basalt soccer converts early opportunities
The Aspen Times
Opportunity knocked early for the Longhorns. And they answered.
The Basalt High School boys soccer team scored three goals in the first 12 minutes — including one 15 seconds into the match — in a 4-0 nonconference victory over the Skiers on Thursday afternoon at the AHS field.
“My left winger, Darwin (Oriana), gave me a lot of opportunities,” said Basalt senior Omar Contreras. “He gave me a really good pass in the first 15 seconds. And we took advantage of that.”
Contreras finished the first possession with a shockingly early shot into the back of the Aspen net.
“This new formation has helped a lot,” he said, after adding an assist in the sun-soaked victory on the field turf at Aspen High School.
Contreras returned the assist favor to Oriana for Basalt’s third goal just 12 minutes into the match.
The Longhorns sandwiched a direct kick goal in between — a rocket from Juan Abrego after an Aspen foul.
“It was a good boost (to score early),” said Contreras, the son of Francisco and Maria Contreras. “We’ve been calming down more and looking for better passes … trying not to be too frantic with the ball.”
The Longhorns, who dominated in shots 22-7, nearly saw the Skiers climb back into the match in the first half.
A laser from Joel Brice nailed the Basalt crossbar and bounced away.
Just before halftime, after forcing play in the Basalt end, the Skiers had a scoring chance from Edwin Soto. But the ball sailed wide.
The Skiers also went on the attack early in the second half.
“Once we started really playing and believing in ourselves, I thought we had some of the best passing of the game,” Aspen head coach Dave Francis said.
But, he said, the Skiers must believe. And start earlier.
“I told (the team) we need to stop being scared of these teams … stop giving them way too much respect in the first 20 minutes,” Francis said.
He said the Skiers played evenly with the high-scoring Longhorns after giving up the three early goals.
“We were even from there on. In that first half, if we had brought it back to 3-1, I think anything could have happened,” Francis said.
He said a first-half goal could have changed the momentum and boosted the Skiers’ confidence.
“We just need to believe in ourselves … build confidence,” Francis said.
The Skiers (1-4-0) will play the Longhorns again on Oct. 10 in Basalt in a conference matchup.
“We changed some things around. We moved some people around,” Basalt head coach Brent Hayes said, adding that the Longhorns also added a couple of players this week.
“We got a few guys back … a few playmakers,” Hays said after Thursday’s victory and a dynamic 12-0 victory Tuesday at Grand Valley.
“We really need a big Grand Valley win. That helped our confidence,” he said, adding that the return of Contreras helped the Longhorns finish.
“He’s had six goals and four assists in the two games he’s been back. He’s got a good, quick shot,” Hayes said.
With the win, the Longhorns improved to 5-2-0.
“Aspen took it to us the last 15 minutes of the first half,” Hayes said. “We knew Aspen would make a run; they always do.”
Hayes said the Longhorns had trouble matching the flurry from the Skiers.
“They got their game together, and they wanted it more,” the Basalt coach said.
“We’ve got to possess. That’s our game,” Hayes said. “We scored our first three goals because of being calm. When we played frantic, we didn’t get a thing.”
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For Basalt, one of the preseason frontrunners in the Western Slope League, Friday’s loss puts its playoff hopes in jeopardy, while Aspen’s loss to the Bulldogs all but eliminates it from postseason contention.