Frustrated Skiers still prevail at Roaring Fork
While they labored for nearly 48 minutes between their first and second goals Thursday against Roaring Fork, irritation painted the face of every Aspen soccer player.The team’s performance during the final 20 minutes, however, helped ease the tension. Aspen scored three goals during that stretch en route to a 4-0 win – its fifth straight.”They frustrated us from the opening,” Aspen coach John Gillies said. “They came here to defend. On this smaller field, it was crowded out there.”Roaring Fork (2-3-4 overall, 1-3-3 in Western Slope 3A play) was content to pack the box with defenders, leaving little room for Aspen to maneuver or set up its offense. The Skiers had no choice but to fire shots on Rams keepers Nicole Smeins and Whitney Campbell from long distance; three of Aspen’s four goals came from outside the box.Aspen senior Emily Hassall broke a scoreless tie 12 minutes into the first when her penalty kick from 20 yards out ricocheted off a Rams defender and crossed the goal line.”That’s what can happen when you put a good ball into the box,” Gillies said.After multiple errant shots – some from point-blank range – sophomore Julia Hassall broke the Skiers’ drought 20 minutes into the second. On a run towards the goal, she faded toward the middle of the field. When she received the pass, she paused with the ball at her feet, then fired a grounder into the bottom left corner of the net.Gillies said he advised his team to push the ball in the second and to contest every ball in the air. The strategy worked, freeing multiple Skiers for clean looks. Sophomore Maggie Melberg controlled a loose ball just outside the box, fired and scored Aspen’s third goal with 15 minutes to play.With less than two minutes remaining, freshman Ruthie Prikryl controlled a rebound off Campbell and fired from a difficult angle to stretch the lead to four.”They came out very strong, and we just weren’t thinking,” Julia Hassall said. “In the second half we were getting the passing down and spread the field.”In addition to her exploits on the offensive end, Hassall helped preserve the shutout for the Skiers and freshman keeper Molly Wilson – one of three players Aspen has rotated at the position this season. When Wilson wandered out from the goal to contest a Rams charge, the ensuing shot passed her and rolled toward the corner; Hassall was there to stop the ball mere inches from the goal line.”I was in the right place at the right time,” she said.Aspen (8-1, 7-1) has outscored five opponents 28-3 on its current winning streak. The Skiers’ only blemish remains a 8-0 loss April 6 to rival Basalt (9-0-1, 7-0). Aspen hosts the Longhorns at 11 a.m. Saturday.Aspen is hoping Thursday’s final 20 minutes is a preview.”I can honestly say that’s the best Basalt team I’ve seen in eight years, male or female,” Gillies said. “There’s not a weak player. We’ll give it our best for the home crowd. I know we’re capable of doing a lot better than the last time.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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When mountain culture enthusiasts and athletes descend on Vail for the 20th annual Mountain Games from June 7-12, they will carry on a tradition that dates back to the 1970s in Eagle County and was once deemed illegal.