‘Horns, Skiers roll at home
The first game was a rout. The rematch could possibly be the game of the season.After getting drubbed by rival Basalt, 8-0, a little more than a week ago, the Aspen girls soccer team has been on a mission.The Skiers have won all three games since playing the Longhorns, underlined by an 11-0 whitewashing of league foe Olathe on Saturday. If the Skiers get past downvalley rival Roaring Fork on Thursday, Saturday’s rematch against the Longhorns could be the most pivotal game in the 3A Western Slope title chase. The league-leading Longhorns (7-0-1 overall, 5-0 in league) tacked on another win to their undefeated record Saturday with an 8-0 rout of Rangely. Thus far, Basalt has allowed only two goals in eight games – both against non-league teams – and has outscored the opposition, 42-2. The Skiers (7-1 overall, 6-1 in league) have been nearly as impressive. Take away the lopsided loss to Basalt and Aspen has scored 36 goals this season against the eight other teams it has played while allowing just four scores. Against Olathe, the Skiers could’ve padded those stats even more, but thankfully the game was called 20 minutes into the second half, coach John Gillies said. At the time, the Skiers had only nine players on the field.”We’ve been playing well, but hold your breath because we still have to play Basalt next week,” Gillies said. “We’ll see how much we’ve improved then.”The Skiers got three goals apiece from sisters Emily and Julia Hassall. Taylor Buzbee added two and Ruthie Prikryl, Arielle Shipe and Maggie Melberg each had one.The Skiers back line of defenders also had their best game of the season, Gillies said.”They were passing the ball really well, and playing aggressively,” he said. “Elyse Boelens had a great game.”Basalt’s rout against Rangely followed a similar formula. Katie Staerkel netted her first goal 30 seconds into the game off an assist from Jessi Graf. Staerkel’s second goal came at the six-minute mark gave Basalt a comfortable 3-0 lead, but the Longhorns weren’t done.Maddie Hoffman, Melissa Stewart, Sam Christensen and Emily Peetz also added scores in the first 40 minutes en route to a 7-0 advantage at the half.Coach Chris Woods made a number of substitutions and position changes at the start of the second half to keep the game from getting out of hand.Goalie Dayne Toney, who made one save in the first half, took a turn playing forward, while most of Basalt’s back line switched with the front line. “We really just wanted to have fun in the second half,” Woods said. “We didn’t take it too seriously. We took a lot of players off, and played a lot of two-touch ball.” Melissa Stewart scored Basalt’s final goal five minutes into the second half off an assist from Kate Wilson.As for the rematch against Aspen, Woods expects the Skiers to be fired up when the two teams meet again on Aspen’s home pitch. “I’m very confident in my girls,” Woods said. “We gave [Aspen] a bit of a touch up, and hopefully they’ll change some things and they’ll give us more of a run.”The first meeting between the two teams was a physical contest, and a collision between Aspen goalie Grace Seigle and Basalt’s Kat Fitzpatrick caused tempers to flare. Seigle sat out the second half of the game after complaining of a headache and neck pain, and Gillies insinuated in his post-game comments that Fitzpatrick took out his goalie intentionally.Those remarks, and other comments, led the mother of one Basalt player to write a letter to the Aspen Times which called Gillies “weenie” and a “sore loser.”A string of letters from Aspen parents and players that defended Gillies were printed after that.What has played out in the pages of the newspaper should have little effect on how things play out on the field next Saturday, Woods said. “The whole thing is between the parents,” Woods said. “John called me during the week and I told him it wasn’t a big deal. It’s fair enough – the parents here stick up for their girls and the parents in Aspen stick up for their girls.”Woods then added, however, that his team may benefit if Aspen plays with too much emotion. “That’s been their problem,” he said. “They try to put us off our game each time we play them, but they’re over-agressive. They just need to focus on their skills and try to outplay us. … I don’t know if you’d call it a rivalry, but the girls definitely enjoy playing each other. They want to beat us, and we want to beat them. These two towns are definitely the best in the valley when it comes to soccer.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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