‘Horns open bid for state supremacy
Not to diminish what the Basalt High boys soccer team accomplished during the regular season – a 13-1-1 record and a No. 2 ranking in Colorado’s Class 3A – but meaningful soccer begins in earnest for the Longhorns tomorrow afternoon in Basalt.Seeded higher than any Longhorn boys team before them, No. 2 seed Basalt hosts No. 15 James Irwin of Colorado Springs Wednesday at 4 p.m. at the BHS field in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament. By Nov. 9, the 16 teams in the bracket will be whittled to just one, the champion.For the Longhorns, Wednesday’s match represents the first step of four, hopefully, in a quest to capture their first state title.”The kids are approaching it a game at a time,” said four-year Basalt head coach Erik Streff, “but the goal of the year is a state title.””And for the seniors and myself – I’ve been working with these kids since they were seventh-graders – it’s finally come to the point where all the kids know exactly what I want, and exactly what needs to be accomplished in order to fulfill that goal.”Last year, Basalt lost in the state quarterfinals 1-0 to Salida. In 2002, Basalt again fell in the quarters 1-0 to Kent Denver (on an own goal in a blizzard). And in 2001, Basalt lost in the semifinals 3-1 to the eventual state champion Colorado Springs Christian School, a match many of the Basalt seniors witnessed from the sidelines as freshmen.”The last couple of practices we’ve had good talks, before and after, and one of their biggest comments is that we have to leave everything on the field from here on out. You can’t say, ‘What if,'” said Streff, who was a Basalt club coach before taking over as the varsity head coach. “And if we give 110 percent every game and come up short, we’ll know there was nothing else we could do.”Basalt enters with one of the most potent offenses in the state. Senior co-captain and center midfielder Cy Eaton and junior striker Felipe Sanchez rank among the top scorers in Class 3A – Eaton with 18 goals and 18 assists, and Sanchez with 18 goals and 14 assists.In total team offense, Basalt stands tall with defending 3A state champion Faith Christian – the only team to beat the Longhorns this year, dating back to the season opener Sept. 3. Faith Christian, the No. 1 seed at 15-0-0, has 82 goals and 49 assists, while Basalt has notched 77 goals and 67 assists.Faith Christian, however, is on the opposite side of the bracket from the ‘Horns. Faith opens at home against No. 16 Roaring Fork (6-8-2). Roaring Fork, No. 12 Vail Mountain (7-3-3), and Basalt represent the three teams from the Class 3A Western Slope League in the playoffs.Still, Streff expects butterflies will be with his players come game time.”I think nerves are a good thing,” he said. “It means that they care. At the same time, the experience from the last couple years will give us a leg up on some other teams. They’ll be a little nervous, but they’ve played big games before and they’ll be ready to go.”It can be hard to get ready for a specific team when you haven’t seen them play, but we have to go into every game playing the style of soccer that we play,” Streff continued. “And the team as a unit, they’re ready for anybody. We don’t need to switch things up too much to be successful. We attack different ways as a rule anyway, with five or six guys with seven goals or more, so we’ve proven we can adapt and make adjustments when we need to.”Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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