Basalt soccer knocks off Vail Mountain in key RPI win
According to the rankings, the Basalt High School boys soccer team is one of the top 10 teams in Class 3A. Not that he doubts his players, but Basalt coach Brent Hayes was still looking for more from his team to validate those rankings.
He got it Tuesday when the host Longhorns took down mighty Vail Mountain on senior day.
“I never really knew where our team stood. We are ranked relatively high in the RPI, but to me it seemed a little inflated,” Hayes said. “This game proves I’m OK with us being a top-10 ranked team in the state, because when you beat a team like this, you can play with anybody.”
The two teams also met once earlier this season, a 4-0 win for Vail Mountain on Sept. 17 in Vail. The Gore Rangers entered Tuesday’s rematch 11-2 overall, including a seven-game win streak early in the season. Still in contention for a 3A Western Slope League title, Vail Mountain was denied that chance after Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Longhorns.
“We knew we had a fighting chance because we were missing three seniors the first time we played them,” Hayes said of the rematch. “I told my boys that to do well at state, we have to beat or at least compete with the very, very good teams in 3A; and Vail, they have proven they are one of the best teams in 3A.”
In the game’s 15th minute, Basalt found out it had a chance this time when senior Pablo Rivera scored to make it 1-0. Rivera only played for the first time on Monday, a 10-1 win over Caprock Academy, because he had been academically ineligible.
Itching to return to the team and make good on his mistakes, Rivera did just that against the Rangers. Not only did he get the icebreaker in the first half, but he scored a second goal midway through the second half that ultimately proved to be the game winner.
“I realize now I learned from the past, because it was really tough,” Rivera said about missing most of the season. “We were there for each other and never gave up. We played the whole 80 minutes. As our coach said, the last 10 are the key minutes of the game, and we came out and played our game, did our best.”
Vail Mountain, aided by a strong wind at its back, did have chances in the second half to rally. The Rangers had a shot clank off the top of the crossbar with about nine minutes to play, and had another go off the right goal post with five minutes remaining.
Vail’s only goal came with less than two minutes to play in regulation, but even with roughly three minutes of stoppage time, couldn’t get the equalizer.
“Vail did a great job controlling the ball and putting us under constant pressure the second half. But, we did enough,” Hayes said. “To stick with these guys on our home field for senior night and essentially take a 2-0 game into the last few minutes says a lot about these guys. They didn’t get too high when they got one up, didn’t get too high when they got two up, and they withstood the wind. Those guys did a great job.”
Following Tuesday’s game, Basalt (10-4 overall) ranked No. 7 out of 75 teams in 3A in the RPI standings, which is used to determine seeding in the state tournament. Vail Mountain is ranked No. 3.
The Longhorns have one game remaining in the regular season, a Thursday trip to Aspen (4-9-1 overall), ranked No. 46 in the RPI standings. The Skiers were a 9-0 winner over Caprock Academy on Tuesday.
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