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‘Horns weary but winning

Jon Maletz

The Basalt girls soccer team and coach Chris Woods couldn’t have asked for a better way to end their stretch of four games in six days.The Longhorns (5-0-1) shook off fatigue and some early jitters Monday, and came away with a 4-1 win at 5A Fruita Monument.”We didn’t even talk about the game afterwards. I just told them to enjoy it,” Woods said. “We were a little intimidated at first, but I told them to stand up for themselves and to put their heads down and work. And they did.”After acclimating to the wind and Fruita’s physical play, Basalt opened the scoring. Sophomore midfielder Jessi Graf lined a direct free kick past Fruita’s keeper 10 minutes into the first half.After the Wildcats answered back, Katie Staerkel scored the first of her two goals five minutes before intermission. Staerkel faded towards the middle of Fruita defense on a corner by Graf and timed her header perfectly.Despite going into the wind during the second half, the Longhorns continued to charge, scoring two goals in the final 20 minutes. Maddie Hoffman scored the team’s third goal – a chip from nearly 30 yards out – off a pass from Staerkel. Hoffman’s kick hit the crossbar, but this time bounded into the net; Staerkel’s apparent game-winning goal against Denver Christian in overtime Saturday hit the bar and flew out of bounds. “The crossbar was good to us this time,” Woods said. “It was one of those games where the wind would pick up for five minutes and be horrendous. We had to get the ball outside and when it died down, we could actually do something.”Staerkel fought off her defender and pressured the Wildcats’ keeper late in the half. Before Fruita could clear the ball, Staerkel gained possession and scored, increasing Basalt’s advantage to three goals and all but sealing victory.The Longhorns fired 25 shots at the Fruita net, Woods said. The game’s standout, however, was sophomore keeper Dayne Toney. The Wildcats managed only one goal – a strong shot from 30 yards out that went over Toney’s reach and hit the top corner of the net. Toney had 14 saves, and even stopped one from point-blank range in the second half.”Dayne had some unbelievable saves,” Woods said. “In the second half, because of the wind, they pushed players forward and were attacking, but we scrambled and got rid of it every single time. Dayne came up big-time.”Woods and his team are exhausted but also elated after outscoring Rangely and Aspen by a combined 18-0, tying with Metro conference power Denver Christian, and beating the Wildcats in convincing fashion in the past week. The team next plays at 4 p.m. Thursday at Roaring Fork. Today, the players will have a full school day for the first time in a week.”I’m sure they’re all looking forward to it,” Woods joked. “We need a little break after some tough games, but this was a good way to end that stretch.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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