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League honors soccer success

Jon Maletz

Their soccer seasons may have ended abruptly, but the postseason awards keep coming for Basalt and Aspen.The schools occupied nine of 17 spots on the all-3A Western Slope’s first team, and five players garnered all-state recognition: Basalt midfielder Jessi Graf and striker Katie Staerkel earned first-team honors; senior Maddie Hoffman and sophomore Kat Fitzpatrick received honorable mention. Aspen senior Emily Hassall made second team.Staerkel and Graf, the Western Slope 3A’s player of the year in 2005 and 2006, respectively, both made the first team for a second consecutive season.”It’s good overall recognition for the league,” said Basalt coach Chris Woods, who was in Denver over the weekend to lobby for his players. “This is uncharted territory for us, especially when Jessi’s only a sophomore and Katie’s a junior. They have a chance to three-peat it. That would be pretty cool.”Graf and Staerkel helped propel the Longhorns to an 11-1 Slope record and a conference title. They formed the most potent scoring duo in the conference, with 41 goals. Graf led the team with 16 assists and scored 18 goals. While her numbers were down after her sophomore campaign, Staerkel still managed to lead the Longhorns with 23 goals.Hoffman, an honorable mention all-state selection in 2005, tallied 11 goals and assisted on four. Fitzpatrick finished with 10 goals and four assists.Hassall led Aspen with 17 goals and recorded seven assists. It’s been at least four years since Aspen was represented on the state team, coach John Gillies said. “I think she deserves what she’s been given this year,” Gillies added. “When you think about it, there’s an awful lot of teams out there, and an awful lot of kids. To be picked for second team means she was considered to be in the top 22 in the state. That’s a big achievement.”The recognition has a direct link to the strength and potential of the Slope, Woods said. State coaches have taken notice of both Aspen’s and Basalt’s records and level of play this season. The Skiers fell in their opener to Alexander Dawson, which lost to eventual champion Kent Denver in the quarterfinals. The Longhorns fell to Colorado Academy in the first round of the playoffs, 3-2 in an overtime thriller. The Mustangs then advanced all the way to the semifinals, where they lost to Kent, 1-0, in overtime. While the accolades don’t overshadow a season that ended on disappointing terms, Woods said they bode well for the future.”We were an inch away and were so close,” Woods said. “This is a good compliment for the hard work the girls have done. It gives us another drive for next year.”


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