Basalt stays perfect |

Basalt stays perfect

Nate Peterson

With four starters missing due to either injury or sickness Tuesday, Basalt’s girls soccer team didn’t look like a squad ready to start something with 5A Grand Junction Central in Grand Junction. But that’s why they play the games on the field, and not on paper. The 3A Longhorns (2-0) got two goals from freshman striker Melissa Stewart and another from sophomore Jesse Graf to blank the Tigers, 3-0, and remain perfect.”The first 20 minutes of the game was a dogged battle,” Basalt coach Chris Woods said. “It was definitely a 5A team trying to push us around. [Grand Junction] came out and they were very physical and had good touch on the ball. For the remaining 60 minutes of the game, we dominated.”Stewart teamed up with Graf in the 35th minute to break the scoreless tie. Graf slotted a pass to Stewart at the 18-yard line and Stewart dribbled once before blasting a left-to-right shot that found its way into the goal’s top right corner.Seven minutes into the second half, it was more of the same. Graf sneaked past the Tigers’ back line for a one-on-one opportunity with the keeper, but her shot bounced off the post. Stewart ran down the rebound, then dribbled through two defenders before netting her second goal of the game.”At the half we really had a talk with Jesse about being more aggressive,” Woods said. “Her shot was what really set up Melissa’s. Melissa just slotted the ball. The keeper was scrambling around, and the defenders were just trying to block a possible shot.”Graf then added the Longhorns’ final score in the 60th minute off a cross from junior Sam Christensen. Graf released a quick shot just before Grand Junction’s charging goalie could reach the ball, which ended up trickling into the goal after bouncing off the far post.Basalt junior Katie Staerkel, the leading goal scorer in 3A last season, was double-teamed by Grand Junction for most of the game and was held without a goal.The Longhorns (2-0) had one good final scoring opportunity in the 70th minute after Stewart was taken down hard by a defender in the goal box, but the ensuing penalty kick from Graf was deflected.Basalt’s next game is April 6, at home against rival Aspen. The game is set for a 4 p.m. start.”We’re doing really well right now,” Woods said. “We’re missing four of our varsity players, so I was really surprised how the girls stepped up and performed. Our fitness was definitely a lot stronger than Central’s, and they’ve had more time on the field than us.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is

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