Basalt takes on CA to open 3A playoffs
When the Basalt soccer team takes the field at 3 p.m. Friday in the first round of the 3A playoffs, it will have both rest and familiarity on its side.The Longhorns – idle since a 4-1 win against Aspen on Oct. 18 – will host Colorado Academy. Basalt beat the Mustangs, 3-0, on Sept. 3 in the teams’ only meeting of the season. Colorado Academy outlasted Aspen, 3-2, in double overtime Thursday. “We played them early in the year, and I’ve already watched their game with Aspen on TV, so I’ve gotta good look at them a couple times,” Basalt coach Erik Streff said. “They’re a good team from a good league. It’s playoff time, and every team will put their hearts into it.”A quick scan of the bracket reveals a host of familiar names. The Longhorns have faced four of the seven teams on their side of the draw in 2005.
Assuming Basalt – seeded No. 3 – defeats No. 14 Colorado Academy, a potential rematch with No. 11 Middle Park looms in the quarterfinal round Nov. 1. The Longhorns defeated the Panthers, 2-0, on Oct. 15.If Basalt (13-2, 10-0) advances to the semifinals like it has twice since 2001, difficult matchups with No. 2 Faith Christian or No. 7 Salida could await. The Longhorns have lost to both this season. Faith Christian blanked Basalt, 4-0, in the season opener on Sept. 1. Salida shut out the Longhorns, 2-0, on Sept. 15. Basalt has not lost since, reeling off nine straight wins to close out the regular season. If recent history is any indication, Basalt and Salida are on a collision course. The two teams have faced each other in three of the past four postseasons, including the semis last year. Salida ended the Longhorns’ seasons in 2003 and 2004, each time by a score of 1-0.In 2001 – the last time Basalt recorded an undefeated conference record (11-0) – the Longhorns defeated the Spartans, 4-0, in the first round before being knocked off by Colorado Springs Christian in the semifinals. Basalt is 2-3 versus Salida since 2001.”We try not to look past anyone we play because there are good teams,” Streff said. “Salida is a good team with great coaches and has a good club program to pull from. Faith Christian has a lot of good talent.
“We’ve come a long way since both those games all the teams have changed over the last couple weeks,” Streff added. “This is a new season, and now we start with a clean slate.” While the Longhorns are playing their best soccer at the most opportune time, Streff is hoping his team will avoid the complacency that comes with a long layoff. The break has given Basalt some time to recover from the rigors of a long and physical season. Streff said his players have been pushing one another and are more focused than ever. They are well aware of the urgency.It’s one and done from here on out. The strong finish to the regular season is now a mere afterthought as the 2005 Basalt team looks to make a run to the school’s first soccer championship.
Both the 2003 and 2004 seasons looked promising but ended abruptly. Basalt was in the midst of a 16-game unbeaten streak when it lost last year. In 2003, it entered the quarterfinal round after going 8-0-1 in its last nine.”The break has given us the chance to work on a few things and work a little harder,” Streff said. “We have 10 seniors, so we know how much this means. I think we’re ready to go.” Basalt and No. 16 Colorado Rocky Mountain School are the lone Western Slope teams remaining. The Oysters have a less-than-appealing draw; they face top-seeded Kent Denver in the first round. Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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