Longhorn boys soccer is looking for progress after a difficult 2017 season
The 2017 season was probably the most challenging for Basalt High School boys soccer coach Brent Hayes since he took over the program full time in 2011. With three double-digit win seasons over that span, including an 11-6 campaign in 2016, the Longhorns finished only 5-9-1 last fall. Most of this had to do with a roster that was made primarily of inexperienced sophomores.
“It’s going to be a work in progress,” Hayes said of this year’s team. “It’s going to be interesting. I think we can improve on last year because these guys have strong character. They never gave up last year.”
On the plus side, the majority of those sophomores are back this season, which gets underway Thursday in Carbondale. Depth will be an issue for the Longhorns, but the top-end talent has Hayes feeling optimistic.
“I feel like we are young again,” Hayes said. “I’m hopeful but hesitant because I know other teams like Aspen and Roaring Fork are just stacked. I think they have a lot of seniors. While we do have a lot of juniors, it’s still a really young team.”
Aspen, which beat Grand Valley 6-0 to open its season on Saturday, and Roaring Fork are certainly contenders in the league. The Rams enter the season ranked No. 10 in Class 3A, having received more votes than last year’s league champion Coal Ridge and runner-up Delta.
Coal Ridge and Delta were the top two vote getters to not be ranked in the preseason top 10 by CHSAANow.com.
For Basalt to get into that picture, Hayes believes he needs to find a group of leaders more than anything.
“I need somebody to really get out there and take charge of the team. I just haven’t seen that yet. I didn’t realize how important that was until last year when I had nobody really step up,” Hayes said. “Numbers aren’t what they used to be, but I’m hopeful. I think we can still have a nice season, for sure.”
Thursday’s varsity game at Roaring Fork is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. under the lights. The junior varsity game will start at 5 p.m.
The varsity teams played twice last year, the Rams winning 2-1 in overtime the first time and 6-0 the second.
“It’s going to be a really tough first game on their field,” Hayes said. “They play so well on their field. It’s a small, tight field and really suits their playing style. It’ll be tough, and they are stacked. Lots of players with lots of experience.”
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