Future is now for ‘Horns
Basalt’s push for a state championship begins in earnest today.
The No. 3 seed Lady Longhorns (13-1) kick off with No. 6 Bishop Machebeuf of Denver (14-2-1) at 4 p.m. today at the BHS field in the quarterfinals of the Class 3A girls soccer state tournament.
The winner advances to the final four in Denver and, naturally, the loser goes home, all done for the season.
Basalt captured its seventh consecutive Class 3A Western Slope League championship this season and enters the match with a 12-game win streak, its only loss dating back to March 20. And in the last nine Basalt victories, including a 10-0 rout of No. 14 Evangelical Christian Academy last Thursday in the first round of the state tourney, the Lady ‘Horns have not allowed a single goal, outscoring opponents 50 to nil.
But, as first-year head coach and five-year assistant coach Chris Woods knows, none of that matters now. Last year, for example, Basalt was upset in the first round of the tourney and the year before the Longhorns were bounced in the quarterfinals. Basalt made its first and only appearance in the final four when the current crop of 10 seniors were freshmen.
And this year’s seniors, every one of them, Woods notes, have vivid memories of past disappointments.
“We’ve had the experience and the heartbreak as well,” said Woods. “We know what that feels like.
“We also know we’ll have 11 great players on the field when we start and there isn’t a weak spot. For any team to beat us, they’re going to have to outplay us, but they’ll also have to be more aggressive and more skillful and get some lucky bounces. We’re not going to have any team come in here and walk over us.
“The girls’ passion and determination is there. They want to win and keep going.”
Basalt’s defensive unit has allowed just seven goals in 14 games this season, a feat that senior goalie Autumn Caughern credits to the defenders who play in front of her – classmates like Brittany Pollock, Meghan Stewart, Amanda Schmitt, Rochelle Moebius and Maria Jacobson.
And while Basalt’s defensive prowess is undeniable, the Longhorn’s offensive assault – which saw 10 players figure in on goals or assists last Thursday – is equally impressive. Scoring threats include Maddie Hoffman, Ashley Eaton, Ukare Sano, Katie Staerkel, Kari Heuer, Sophie Stenstadvold and on and on.
“With the sort of training we’ve done this year,” Woods said, “we’ve become like those top Denver teams. We counterattack really fast and the defense works hard to keep the ball in front of them.
“Of course they’re going to be nervous knowing this is possibly their last game in high school, but the girls have a lot of confidence in themselves and they just want to keep it rolling, take it one game at a time and keep believing. And hopefully, before we know it, it’ll be Saturday afternoon [playing for the state title in Denver]. All the girls have worked too hard not to give it their all [today].
“We all know that a team is going to have to be at their best to come beat us at home,” Woods added, “especially if we get another big crowd. The crowd has made a big difference for us, the girls are unanimous about that. Hopefully, my girls put their scoring shoes back on and just rack up the score. That’s what I want. But we also know we’re not going to have half as many chances as we did against [Evangelical Christian]. But if we get two chances, we want two goals.”
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