Four Skiers on Slope’s first team
ASPEN Haley Ortmann and Taylor Buzbee wanted one more crack at the state soccer playoffs.They never got it, but if it’s any consolation, opposing 3A Western Slope coaches thought the two Aspen seniors were something special.Buzbee, a dynamic forward, and Ortmann, the Skiers’ emotional leader on defense, were Aspen’s top vote-getters at the recent all-league meeting. They join juniors Julia Hassall and Steffi Klawiter on the Slope’s first team.Honorable mentions went to junior midfielder Grace Seigle, freshman goalie Lindsey Anderson and freshman defender Sally Boelens. The postseason honors for five returning players underline the fact that the Skiers – 6-2 before losing three of their last five games and missing the playoffs – will certainly be heard from next spring.Replacing Buzbee and Ortmann will be a difficult task, however, said Skiers coach John Gillies.
“Haley is just a natural leader,” he said. “She’s been leading from a very young age. She’s the owner of the back. Her leadership qualities are second to none. … Taylor has always been a superstar. She’ll always give you 100 percent. I’ve been coaching her since she was in eighth grade, and she’s always been special.”Ortmann’s value to the Skiers was stopping the opposition’s best scorers, but she also managed to score two goals.Various injuries slowed Buzbee and Hassall early, but both forwards found their stride late in the season. In the Skiers’ home finale against Coal Ridge, Buzbee scored two goals in a 3-2 comeback win. Hassall scored the go-ahead goal in another dramatic win over Coal Ridge, on April 24, the Skiers’ last before two losses knocked them out of playoff contention. “Because she was injured, we didn’t really see the real Julia until the last three games,” Gillies said. “When she’s healthy, she’s the pinnacle. She’s the person who you build a team around.”
Gillies moved Hassall from center midfielder to forward because Seigle emerged during the season – a progression Gillies hopes to see continue next spring.With her injuries, it took Hassall some time to get up to speed at her new position. The Skiers’ other midfielder, sophomore Olivia Davis, broke her ankle five weeks before the season and also came on late. Seigle’s stellar play helped smooth over the transition, Gillies said.”Gracie, to me, if she keeps Julia Hassall and Olivia Davis out of the middle, she’s in a great position, because those two are phenomenal in that position,” Gillies said. Klawiter, a California transplant, teamed with Ortmann and Boelens to form a stingy back line. “[She’s] just one of those naturally talented players who is easy to coach and works hard,” Gillies said.
Both Boelens and Anderson, who never played goalie before, got a boost from the two upperclassmen defenders. Boelens is the youngest of three sisters coached by Gillies, and has the potential to be the best, he said.”She has vision and touch and she can see where she’s putting it,” Gillies said. “She is unique for a freshman.”The coach said the same thing of Anderson, whose baptism by fire should pay dividends in the future. Gillies noted that during his tenure at Aspen, he has never had a freshman earn an honorable mention. Now he has two.”The amount of one-on-one goals this girl faced, especially for playing a new position, she is going to be worth 17 goals in a season,” he said. Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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Buttermilk Ski Area already is scheduled to host the world’s best at ESPN’s X Games this coming week, while it was recently announced Aspen Highlands will host alpine skiing’s NorAm finals later this spring.