Girls soccer: Late blunder costs Aspen
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Vail Mountain School could not catch a break during the first half Wednesday in Aspen.
The Gore Rangers were all but handed a victory down the stretch, however. A costly mistake from Skiers goalkeeper Sally McGuren led to a VMS goal in the 73rd minute. The visitors held on for a win in this battle of 3A Region 3 heavyweights.
“I’m not much for the cosmos – what happens, happens,” VMS head coach Bob Bandoni said. “But yeah, that was a nice break for us.”
This evenly played match appeared destined for overtime. Then came a seemingly innocuous play deep in Aspen’s end.
McGuren ventured out of the box to corral a loose ball. She tracked it down, paused briefly and passed directly to an onrushing Gore Rangers player, who took a few touches and tapped the ball into a wide-open net.
“She didn’t know what she wanted to do,” Skiers head coach John Gillies said. “The ball usually rolls backward to her, and she’s got time to kick it and know where it’s going. She was put under pressure and made a bad decision.”
Bandoni added, “If they’re pulling the keeper out that much, we’re going to respond to that. If we hit it well, we put it over her head and score that way. We made her manage that ball, and it’s hard to manage that.”
McGuren was sure-handed for much of Wednesday’s match, as both teams struggled mightily to generate any offense.
“I thought that both teams struggled to control the midfield the whole match,” Bandoni said. “We got into a game where balls were being launched back and forth. We want to be able to manage the midfield in a way that serves our attack in a much more deliberate, predictable way. They were disrupting us quite a bit.”
VMS found a rare opening midway through the opening half but came away empty-handed. During a five-second stretch, one Gore Rangers player drilled the right post, and then McGuren smothered a point-blank shot.
Aspen’s best chance to pull ahead came on a corner in the 47th minute; the ball bounded right in front of the Gore Rangers net, but no Skiers player could get a head or cleat on it.
“We ran them into the ground. They were tired in the second half,” Gillies said. “I thought we were all over them.”
It was VMS that prevailed, however, handing Aspen its first loss in nine games this season.
“Goals are caused by mistakes. Unfortunately for the goalkeeper, there’s no one behind you” to serve as backup, Gillies said. “She’ll learn from it. That’s what we need to do.”
The Skiers host Rifle at 4 p.m. Thursday.
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ESPN’s Winter X Games is back in Aspen this week for the 20th straight year, although it’ll lack most of the usual flair. Out of precaution to safeguard against further spread of COVID-19, there won’t be any fans, any music and, well, really anything outside of the main competitions.