Boys soccer: Vail Mtn. edges Aspen in OT

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Aspen's Nikko Wehse goes up for a header against Dylan Cunningham of Vail Mountain School during Tuesday's soccer match at Aspen School District Stadium. Vail Mountain won, 2-1, in overtime.
Aubree Dallas/The Aspen Times |

Enough drama, already.

Whenever Aspen and Vail Mountain School line up on the soccer pitch these days, a dramatic ending is virtually guaranteed.

Case in point: The visiting Gore Rangers rolled in a golden goal in overtime Tuesday afternoon to slide past the Skiers 2-1 in a slippery clash of the top teams in the Western Slope League.

Liam Hurley of Vail Mountain School flicked the ball into an open Aspen net after a confusing scramble in front of the goal with 2:32 to play in the 10-minute overtime.

“We got a little excited. Our shots were spraying a little here and there,” Vail Mountain coach Pete Petrovski said. “(Before overtime), I told them to put it on frame. Force them to make (a play) … I’m glad we squeaked it out. That is a good team (Aspen).”

The Gore Rangers had pounded shots at the Aspen goal throughout regulation, finishing with 18 in all.

With extended possession, Vail Mountain School attacked early in the match with Clayton Kirwood scoring a rebound goal off a shot from Kevin Garcia just 8 minutes into the match at Aspen School District Stadium.

Exactly 4 minutes later, the Skiers evened the score on a touch-touch-touch goal that started when Joel Brice stole the ball deep in Vail Mountain territory.

Brice tapped across the front of the goal to Ramiro Perez, who tapped to Garret McNichol, who tapped home Aspen’s tying goal.

From there, the teams played to a scoreless draw through 27 minutes of the second half and 71/2 minutes of overtime — most of which was played in a light Seattle drizzle.

”I’ve got a lot of respect for Dave (Aspen coach Dave Francis),” Petrovski said after the Gore Rangers improved to 8-2-1 (5-0-0 in conference). “His kids always come out prepared. He coaches them very well. So, if we can play well against a team like Aspen, I know we are doing something right.”

The Skiers, after the early Vail Mountain attacks, regrouped and offered counterattacking challenges by Brice, Perez, Jorge Esparza, John Heaphey, Harry Kahn and Guillermo Flores.

“In the first 10 to 15 minutes, they caused us a lot of problems,” the Aspen coach said of the Skiers (7-3-0, 3-0-1 in league). “The things they were doing stopped us from playing the game the way we want to play.”

Francis said they had to offset the Gore Rangers’ spacious attacks.

“We needed to make adjustments to negate the space they were finding out on the wing,” he said. “In order for us to do that, we had to compromise on our attack … reduce some of our options.”

Thus, the counterattack.

“In the second half, we were a lot better than the first half,” Francis said after the Skiers offered five shots against the Gore Rangers in the second half and one more in OT.

“Overall, it was an even game … but a disappointing loss,” Francis said on a day when the AHS seniors were honored. The loss was the first in conference for Aspen.

John Linn was in goal for the Gore Rangers, who won their sixth consecutive match.

“This was a tough game for a goalkeeper,” the Vail Mountain coach said. “He didn’t get a lot of chances, but occasionally he had one he really had to save. He played a fantastic game.”

Vail Mountain’s defense included freshman Bridger Gile, who grew up in Aspen and was greeted by a loud ovation during the prematch introductions.

The Skiers will play at Roaring Fork on Thursday before a contest at Rifle on Saturday.

Vail Mountain will host Roaring Fork on Saturday.