Four Aspen soccer players honored
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” They didn’t make it to the playoffs, but four senior Aspen girls soccer players are still walking away with some hardware.
Opposing coaches recently named four-year standout Julia Hassall to her third-consecutive 3A Western Slope first team. Senior midfielder Grace Seigle joined Hassall on the elite list, and fellow seniors Maggie Melberg and Steffi Klawiter garnered honorable mentions.
The Skiers finished third in the Slope for a second consecutive season, narrowly missing out on a postseason berth. After opening 2008 with five wins in its first six games, Aspen stumbled down the stretch ” dropping three straight at one point.
The Skiers managed to salvage a difficult closing stretch with a 4-1 win over Rangely in the regular-season finale.
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The good news continued at the coaches’ meeting.
Hassall, a fixture on league postseason awards lists since her freshman year, battled through injury for much of the season but still managed to be the team’s most productive offensive option. She finished with 15 goals, two of which came in the season finale when she was hampered by a sore tailbone.
Hassall and sister, Emily, were all-conference first-team selections in 2006. The duo will be reunited on the soccer pitch next season at NAIA Northwood University in West Palm Beach, Fla.
“Julia is one of those gifted girls who comes from another community where soccer was her life,” Aspen coach John Gillies said Tuesday. He called Hassall one of the top three players he’s coached in his 10 years at the school, a list that includes her sister and Ellen Falender. “She’s so passionate about soccer. She’ll succeed wherever she plays.”
Seigle might have been overlooked because of her modest statistics ” two assists and one goal ” but her presence could not be discounted, Gillies said. The senior controlled the midfield and utilized her vision to set up scoring chances for teammates.
“I’ve been coaching her since she was a wee girl, sixth or seventh grade. She always had great vision and ability, but what she added to her game this year was determination,” Gillies said. “She showed great desire. … She deserves all the credit she’s got.”
All-around athlete Melberg teamed with Seigle to patrol the middle. She pitched in on the offensive end with three goals, including one in the final game where she fended off a defender, turned and fired from 25 yards out.
“She was good at holding the ball, good at winning the ball,” Gillies said of Melberg. “[Melberg and Seigle] created a great partnership. They were just in command.”
The same could be said for Klawiter. The California transplant, one of four Skiers on the first team last season, settled into the left fullback position as a freshman and was a fixture in the backfield for four years.
A head injury severely limited Klawiter’s ability to head the ball, but she adapted and continued to thrive, Gillies said.
“When you look at positions, you say Julia is a prolific scorer. Steffi was just as prolific in her position,” Gillies added. “She just didn’t get the glory.”
Glory ” principally, a return to the postseason ” eluded the Skiers. Returning to the playoffs in 2009 in the absence of this year’s seniors will be a tall order, Gillies said.
“It’s tough every year losing seniors,” he added. “Hopefully our young players can come through. They have to go from playing with the talented [older kids] to stepping into their shoes.”
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