Cleveland propels BHS to quarters
Aspen Times Staff Writer
No. 5 Basalt is off to the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state soccer tournament after blanking No. 12 Middle Park 3-0 Friday at the BHS field.
Basalt, now 12-3-1 overall, will travel to Denver this week to face No. 4 Kent Denver, 14-3, for the right to advance to the final four.
BHS, already the Class 3A Western Slope League champs, won control of its postseason opener with two goals from senior forward Spencer Cleveland in the first 15 minutes of play.
“That has to be the best 15 minutes they’ve played all year,” one parent commented as Cleveland netted his second goal of the day.
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The amazed father gradually expanded his compliment to include the entire first half of Friday’s match, as Middle Park managed only one wayward shot at the BHS goal. In fact, Middle Park rarely ventured past center field, thanks to the efforts of the Longhorn attack.
Senior Rual Mendoza snuck in one last Basalt goal with just two minutes left in the game, the last of a whopping 21 shots on the day. A near-record number of shots on goal was just one impressive stat the Longhorns recorded on Friday.
“Our passing, everything ? attacking and pressuring their defense ? the kids know it’s playoff time, the most important time of the year,” BHS coach Erik Streff said.
Streff noted his team’s strength, despite the loss of senior starters Brady Kahn and Ryan Thompson. Both players were awarded yellow cards during Basalt’s final game of the season, resulting in their benching vs. Middle Park.
“I thought the boys came out hard,” Streff said. “They knew that we were missing a few players, but people stepped up and took their place.”
The focus is now on Kent Denver, a perennial 3A powerhouse. Kent Denver topped No. 13 seed Denver Christian on Friday to move on to the quarterfinals.
“I was just talking with the Middle Park coach, and I got a few insights on them,” he said. “They’re always a difficult team ? they made it to the finals last year.”
However, Basalt will be back at full strength this week, Streff said. And another outstanding defensive effort, like the one the Longhorns demonstrated on Friday, would give Basalt an edge, the coach said.
“I think that our defense needs to play like they did against Middle Park. The whole defense stepped up ? the whole team as a defensive unit stepped up,” Streff said.
Basalt’s match vs. Kent Denver will be scheduled later this week.
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