Basalt soccer turns it on late, downs CRMS

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jim Ryan/Special to The Aspen TimesBasalt's Willy Salamanca attempts a sliding shot as CRMS' Jason Qian (23) and Leito Loon defend Thursday at Basalt High School.

BASALT – Basalt head soccer coach John McDermott thought his team did not come ready to play. Sebastian Liuzzi could not explain why, but said he and his Longhorns teammates were playing slower than normal.

Whatever the reason, the home team looked lethargic during the opening half of Thursday’s match with visiting Colorado Rocky Mountain School.

Basalt finally rounded into form in the second half. In a hurry.

Basalt (4-2) scored two goals during a three-minute stretch, and three in 12 minutes to cruise past CRMS, 3-1.

“We really did not get up for the game, and it showed,” McDermott lamented.

“There’s too much hesitation out there, which is the sign of a young team.”

While their energy appeared to be lacking in the opening 40 minutes, the Longhorns still dominated time of possession and produced good looks on goal. But instead of hitting the net, those shots sailed wide, high or, on at least one occasion, drilled the crossbar.

The close calls took their toll, Liuzzi said.

“I think some of us were frustrated that the ball wouldn’t hit the net at all,” he said. “You have to keep your head [up]. You have to keep on trying and trying …”

Added McDermott: “You may not get a lot when they’re packing five or six [in the box]. … I knew the goals would come. They just had to have patience.”

He was right. Little more than six minutes into the second half, Liuzzi lined a strong shot from about 25 yards out that hit the crossbar, then bounded off CRMS goalkeeper Alex Henderson and into the net.

The fortuitous bounce proved to be just what Basalt needed to hit its stride. Three minutes later, Brandon Medero shook free on a run up the far sideline, controlled a pass and ripped a grounder into the near corner.

Freshman Ivan Loya stretched the lead to three in the 59th minute, one-timing a ball past Henderson mere steps from the goal line.

“We’re still figuring out who we are, but I think this is a nice step forward. … What most impressed me was the individual commitment of our players to play them strong and tight all across the field,” CRMS head coach Dan Pittz said. “While they got some shots off, they were contested. There were no easy shots.”

Tommy Adgate trimmed the deficit to two with a strong boot with 17 minutes to play, but CRMS could pull no closer.

“Every win is a good win,” McDermott said. “I think we outplayed them a lot.”

CRMS visits Aspen at 11 a.m. Saturday, while the Longhorns host Hotchkiss at 4 p.m. Tuesday