Colbert’s Prep Playbook: Aspen, Basalt soccer make postseason
A year ago, the Aspen High School boys soccer team finished the regular season ranked No. 31 in RPI and was left out of the 32-team Class 3A state tournament because of automatic qualifiers.
So, I’m guessing the Skiers were sweating it a bit going into Monday’s bracket reveal considering they again finished the season at No. 31.
This time it all worked out. Aspen (6-8 overall) ended a two-year skid without a playoff appearance Monday when it snuck into the 2018 state tournament as the No. 31 seed and will face No. 2 seed Kent Denver (14-0-1) in the first round Thursday. Game time is tentatively set for 3:30 p.m. in Englewood.
Basalt (7-8) also made the state tournament, although it had a little more wiggle room. The Longhorns, which finished No. 25 in RPI, will be the No. 26 seed and face No. 7 seed Faith Christian (11-2-2) at 5 p.m. Thursday on the Front Range.
Also making the 3A tournament out of the Western Slope are No. 4 seed Roaring Fork, No. 6 seed Delta, No. 8 seed Vail Mountain and No. 17 seed Coal Ridge. Atlas Preparatory School is the No. 1 seed this fall.
Basalt last made the state tournament in 2016 when it was an 11 seed. BHS beat No. 22 Denver Christian in the first round, 4-2, before losing to No. 6 Jefferson Academy in the second round, 1-0.
The Longhorns last played Faith Christian in 2012, when BHS lost 1-0 in the second round as the No. 9 seed to the No. 8-seeded Eagles.
Aspen has to go back to 2015 to find its last appearance at state, when it was the No. 32 seed and lost to, of all teams, No. 1 seed Kent Denver in the first round, 2-0. The teams haven’t played since.
FRIDAY FOOTBALL SHOWDOWN
This is the final week of the regular season for the Class 2A Western Slope League in football, and the league title all comes down to two games. Aspen, Basalt and Rifle are all tied atop the standings at 3-1 in WSL play and hope to earn the league’s coveted automatic playoff spot for winning.
No. 6 Rifle (7-1) plays Friday night at Moffat County (3-5), a game it is almost assured of winning. Then there is the looming showdown between the Longhorns and Skiers in Basalt at 7 p.m. Friday night, which has turned into a monster of a game.
Here’s the scenario: if Aspen wins, it is the league champ thanks to a tiebreaking head-to-head win over Rifle. If No. 7 Basalt (7-1) beats No. 10 Aspen (6-2), the Skiers are out of the picture and the league title likely goes to Rifle, thanks to its head-to-head win over Basalt. The Longhorns, the two-time reigning league champs, can only win the WSL for a third straight time if they beat Aspen and Moffat somehow pulls the unlikely upset over Rifle.
So, somewhat shockingly, Aspen is the only team of the three to control its own destiny. Although, AHS had a similar situation last season against Basalt. Aspen was a surprising 5-0 and 1-0 in WSL play when it hosted the Longhorns on homecoming and lost 48-22 in a game that was never close. It was Aspen’s only loss of the regular season.
Now, the good news for the three teams entering Friday’s finale is that a spot in the playoffs looks likely for all. Basalt is No. 5 in RPI this week, Rifle No. 7 and Aspen No. 11. Even Delta, which can’t win the WSL, is No. 9. It’s only a 16-team playoff bracket, but as strong as the 2A WSL is, getting four teams in isn’t crazy.
FINAL PUSH FOR VOLLEYBALL
This is the final week for volleyball. Aspen (15-5) is quietly No. 16 in RPI going into the week. The MaxPreps records only go back to the 2007 season, but in that time no AHS team has won more games in a single season than this one.
It has been tough to follow the team this season because, heading into the final three games, the Skiers have only played three of their 20 games at home. Thankfully, Aspen’s last two are in its own gymnasium.
AHS plays Tuesday night at Cedaredge (16-2, RPI No. 6) in a game that will decide second place in the 3A Western Slope League. Then, the Skiers host Roaring Fork (9-8) on Thursday in a non-league game before closing out with Moffat County (5-14) on Saturday afternoon in a league game.
Basalt volleyball (5-13 overall) plays Tuesday at Lake County before finishing its season Saturday at a tournament hosted by Bennett. BHS had an RPI of 64 (out of 73 teams) as of Monday.
The regional seeding meeting is scheduled for Monday, Oct. 29, with the regional pairings expected out that same day.
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Had Hailey Swirbul decided against going to Europe, she would not have finished with a career-best result in Friday’s World Cup opener. Yes, there was a time, and not long ago, when the U.S. ski team member and Roaring Fork Valley native questioned her desire to put on a race bib.