‘Horns roll; Aspen out of playoffs
Seven different Longhorns contributed goals or assists as the Basalt High boys soccer team routed nonleague opponent Middle Park 7-0 at the BHS field Saturday.Basalt improved to 12-1-1 overall to remain unbeaten in 13 straight games. Middle Park of the Class 3A Metro League dropped to 3-8-3 overall.Basalt, which clinched its fourth consecutive Class 3A Western Slope League title last week, remains poised to earn a top seed in the Class 3A state playoffs.Basalt concludes its regular-season schedule on Tuesday at home at 4 p.m. against Aspen. Aspen, meanwhile, on the road Saturday at Vail Mountain School, lost 2-0 in a game that eliminated the Skiers from playoff contention. “We’re done,” said Aspen coach Grant “Junior” Sutherland.
Basalt play-makers against Middle Park included Ben Pollock (two goals, two assists), Felipe Sanchez (one goal, one assist), Jesse Schoeller (one goal), Cy Eaton (one goal, three assists), Alex Giglio (one goal), Trevor Brown (one goal) and John Paul Fitzpatrick (one assist).Jamie Wirkler, a three-year starter in the Longhorn net as a junior, recorded the shutout, stopping just one Middle Park shot in the process.”We came out strong – two goals in the first four minutes,” said Basalt coach Erik Streff. Basalt led 6-0 at halftime.”And over the last couple games, that’s the way it’s been. We’ve come out strong and looked good. And in the second half, we got a lot of the younger guys in there,” Streff continued.Barring a major upset Tuesday when Basalt hosts Aspen, Basalt is likely to earn a top-four seed in the playoffs. “But it’s always kind of hard to tell,” said Streff.
For much of the season, Basalt has been ranked No. 2 in Colorado’s Class 3A in both Denver newspapers. The only team ranked above Basalt is Faith Christian, the only team to beat the Longhorns (Sept. 3, in the season opener).”I think the kids are pretty close to where we need to be for the playoffs,” said Streff. “But you never take any game lightly – especially against Aspen. Usually, Aspen is one of our harder games all year and last time [when Basalt won 7-1] they had six guys out with injuries. I know our guys know that and they’re going to be ready to play.”Vail Mountain 2, Aspen 0Aspen’s playoff push was halted Saturday with the 2-0 defeat at Vail Mountain.Aspen dropped to 2-6-1 in 3A WSL play and 5-7-2 overall. Vail Mountain, which had already clinched a playoff berth as the No. 2 team in the league behind Basalt, improved to 5-1-3 in league and 6-3-3 overall.
Aspen trailed 1-0 at halftime, struggling with the artificial turf surface in Vail.”The field beat us,” said Aspen coach Sutherland. “It’s a fast field and we just couldn’t get a feel for it. Then, we hit the post twice in the second half, so it was tough.”The best player on the park was Jamie Bernard. He was just outstanding. And then there’s kids like Stephen Buzbee, who is competitive for us every single day, creating his own chances. Hopefully, as we get a little more experience, a little older and wiser, we’ll be able to be competitive with the likes of Basalt in the years to come.”I look at it that 11 of the 17 kids were sophomores and freshmen, so we’re young and we’ve still got a future,” Sutherland continued. “We’re such a young team and I’m proud of them this season. They’ve been competitive in every game except the first Basalt game, when we were without quite a few players, so I think this will help carry us a long way the next year and the year after.”The No. 3 spot in the league standings, and the final berth to the playoffs to the league, will be determined in a match Tuesday between Roaring Fork (3-4-2) and the Colorado Rocky Mountain School (3-6) at 4 p.m. at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale.
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