Bonilla leads Basalt boys soccer over Aspen in season opener, win in overtime
The season opener for the Aspen High School boys soccer team against Basalt had all the usual drama expected out of the rivalry, with the Longhorns playing spoiler on the Skiers’ new turf.
Behind two goals from senior Gaby Bonilla, Basalt snuck out a 2-1 overtime victory over Aspen on Thursday. It was the first win for BHS on Aspen’s field since the 2015 season, before any of the current players were in high school.
“To be playing Aspen, the arch rivals, new field, lights, a little bit of weather — it’s kind of a classic Aspen-Basalt game,” Basalt coach Brent Hayes said. “Aspen played really well. I think we played really well. Both teams had lapses. Both teams had chances. Just super fun. A really fun way to start the season. It was just good soccer all the way around.”
Bonilla gave the Longhorns a 1-0 lead about 15 minutes into the game and behind a stellar performance by senior goalie Mateo Salazar in net it looked like that might end up being the final score. However, Aspen was awarded a penalty kick with three minutes to play in regulation and junior Landon Kiker was able to put the ball past Salazar to force overtime.
“We played really well,” Aspen coach Dave Francis said. “I thought in the first half we were struggling in some areas of the field. Our connections through midfield to the forwards, we were a little hurried trying to go to goal. But in the second half I thought we connected much better.”
Bonilla struck again in overtime, fighting his way past a pair of AHS defenders in much the same way he scored his first goal to get the game winner. The last time the two teams played in Aspen, the Skiers ran away with a 6-1 victory.
“It was just muscling people out of the way,” Hayes said of Bonilla’s goal. “I need him to step up. We lost our leading scorer, who scored pretty much all of our goals last year. It was fun to see him score a couple.”
The game was the first on Aspen’s new state-of-the-art turf field, which was installed over the summer. But the loss was hardly a concern to Francis, who liked what he saw from his players.
“I thought we played really good soccer,” Francis said. “Some of the best soccer I’ve seen early season from any team I’ve had. That side is really pleasing to see.”
Aspen (0-1) won’t play again until traveling to Monarch on Sept. 14. AHS is off next week for experiential education.
The win was critical for the Longhorns (1-0), who have a brutal early-season schedule. BHS next plays Roaring Fork, ranked preseason No. 5 in 3A, on Aug. 30. After that it’s a trip to Western Slope League powerhouse Coal Ridge before a date with preseason No. 1 Kent Denver at the Sun Devils tournament.
“It’s got to be one of the toughest schedules in the state,” Hayes said. “If we come out 3-2, that would be awesome. If we are 2-3 we are still right there in the hunt because league hasn’t started yet. This has got to be huge. I saw some fire that I haven’t seen in some of these guys at the end there.”
ASPEN, BASALT GOLF COMPETE THURSDAY IN MONTROSE
The Aspen High School boys golf team competed Thursday at the Cobble Creek Invitational, hosted by Montrose, where it finished fourth overall with a collective 25-over 241. Montrose won the tournament with 211, followed by runner-up Durango (223) and third-place Palisade (235). Basalt was ninth with 250.
Micah Stangebye (5-under 67) and Jordan Jennings (69), both from Montrose, finished first and second, respectively. Aspen’s top finisher was Andrew Vallone, who tied for 14th after shooting 79. John Hall was a shot back in a tie for 17th place.
Blake Exelbert led the Longhorns by also tying for 17th place with 80.
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