Girls shocker: Skiers relish revenge against Basalt | AspenTimes.com
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Girls shocker: Skiers relish revenge against Basalt

Nate Peterson
Basalt's Katie Staerkel, left, collides with Aspen's Steffi Klawiter while going for a jump ball in the first half Saturday at Lower Moore Field. The Skiers won, 3-1. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)
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The first goal Saturday came as a shock. The third one left no doubt.And now the best girls soccer team in the 3A Western Slope wears red and white, not purple.At least that seemed to be the case after Aspen snapped its seven-year losing streak against rival Basalt with a shocking 3-1 win: shocking because the Longhorns dominated the first meeting, 8-0. Shocking because Basalt had not allowed a goal in league play this season. Shocking because none of Aspen’s players had ever beaten Basalt in varsity soccer.”It feels amazing,” Aspen senior goalie Carly Magill said after a gutsy14-save performance. “We’ve had so many good teams, and we’ve never been able to beat them. This feels so good for us seniors because it’s the last time we’ll ever play them. We really came together today.”Because of tiebreaker rules, Basalt (9-1-1 overall, 7-1 in league) sits atop the 3A Western Slope standings. Longhorns coach Chris Woods admitted, however, that second-place Aspen (9-1, 8-1) was the better team Saturday.”I think we came in a little too complacent, but I’m not taking anything away from them,” Woods said. “They earned it. Three mistakes led to three goals, and [Aspen’s players] defended their butts off. At the same time, we couldn’t hit the side of a barn.”

It became apparent that the game would be different than previous contests between the two teams when Aspen sophomore Maggie Melberg ripped a shot past Basalt keeper Dayne Toney in the fifth minute.Five minutes later, Aspen’s Taylor Buzbee took advantage of an errant pass by a Basalt defender and fired a grounder that snuck into the right corner of the goal past Toney.Basalt suddenly found itself in unfamiliar territory, down, 2-0.”We caught them by surprise,” Aspen coach Jon Gillies said. “I don’t want to take anything away from them, but when you’ve been trashing teams, 10-0, to get behind by an early goal is a bit different.”Melberg concurred that the first goal was the most important. In the first game on April 6, the Skiers imploded after Basalt scored four goals in the first 11 minutes.”I only shoot about once a game, and I made it count today,” Melberg said. “That first goal was really big. It gave us something to build from.”

Basalt didn’t go into panic mode with the tables turned, but with a lead, the Skiers played with complete confidence. Magill only bolstered that confidence by continuing to make tough saves against Basalt’s lethal front line of forwards.Basalt midfielder Jessi Graf took two direct kicks in the first half, and both were rockets that were right on target, but Magill grabbed both out of the air.After she played the first game of the season in goal for the Skiers, Gillies moved Magill to forward, where she had played until Saturday. Gillies said it took some convincing to get Magill back into the goalie’s jersey, but it was well worth it.”She was forced. She didn’t want to do it, but she did it for the good of the team,” he said. “What you gain in goal, you lose on the field. She’s such a great player, but we were able to play well on offense without her.”In the second half, Gillies pulled back some of his midfielders to thwart Basalt’s attack. The move led to a fierce 40 minutes that included multiple collisions between opposing players and two yellow cards against Aspen. Sophomore Julia Hassall got the first at the 10-minute mark for colliding with Toney in Basalt’s box; Hassall’s older sister, Emily, drew a card in the final 15 minutes.Despite the additional defensive pressure, Basalt’s Kat Fitzpatrick snuck through a pack of Aspen defenders to catch up to pass from Staerkel and then push a shot past Magill in the 12th minute of the half.

Down by only one, Basalt remained on the offensive as Aspen’s defense fought to preserve the win. The Skiers’ back line didn’t have to fight as hard after Emily Hassall led a breakaway toward the Basalt goal in the 23rd minute that led to a score from freshman Brittany Marrs. Marrs, who started the season on the junior varsity team, stood out Saturday because she was the only Aspen player on the field with a different jersey. What also stood out was her presence of mind to realize she was uncovered when Emily Hassall passed her the ball while being chased by two Basalt defenders.Marrs paused in the left corner of the Basalt goal box, eyed her shot, then blasted the ball over Toney’s head into the back right corner of the net.It was a blow from which Basalt couldn’t recover.”I’m actually glad that it happened,” Woods said. “As one player said after the game, it was refreshing to lose. It showed us that we’re vulnerable and that we can be beaten when we don’t play well. I think if we would have gone undefeated in league, we would have been in for a rude shock in the playoffs. This brings us back to earth and shows us we still have a lot to work on.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com


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