Longhorns deliver (sort of) | AspenTimes.com

Longhorns deliver (sort of)

Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times

BASALT Oh, baby – wait till you hear this one.In an out-of-character move, Basalt girls soccer coach Chris Woods halfheartedly told his players before Thursday’s match with Roaring Fork that ending the contest prematurely by way of the 10-goal mercy rule would be ideal.For a team that had outscored its opponents 51-3 heading into Thursday’s contest, the request wasn’t spiteful, just practical: Woods’ pregnant wife, Karen, started having contractions before the game, and the coach figured it was possibly the only good reason to tell his players to run up the score.It looked like Basalt’s coach – who constantly checked his cell phone on the sidelines – might get just what he asked for, too, after the Longhorns (10-1 overall) went up 9-0 early in the second half. Shortly thereafter, senior forward Katie Staerkel found herself alone in front of the Roaring Fork net with a point-blank chance against Rams goalie Alli Zeigel.

Zeigel made a spectacular save, however, robbing Staerkel of a fifth goal, and just a short while later Rams junior Krispin Jewkes blasted a shot into the Basalt net to negate the shutout.The plucky Rams might have lost 9-1, but forcing the game to go the full 80 minutes – in spite of Basalt’s pains to do just the opposite – was something to be proud of, Rams coach Brad Zeigel said.”It’s fun to play them, because you know you’re coming up against a great team with really quality players and a lot of speed and good touch and good finishing and you know your goalkeeper is going to be tested and everybody else,” he said. “I’m excited that we had some combination play in their half of the field because there have been years where we can’t even get it across the line.”We have a little cheer that’s about playing the full 80, and Taylor Wagner, the lone senior on this team kind of asked the girls at halftime to do that. She said, ‘Let’s not stop, let’s show these girls that we’re going to play the full 80.'”Staerkel’s miss on her final shot was the only blemish during yet another dominating afternoon when she again proved why she is the most dangerous player in the 3A Western Slope. She opened the scoring in the seventh minute, dancing between two Rams defenders and unloading a shot that Zeigel touched but that still found its way into the net. In the 20th minute, Staerkel put Basalt up 3-0 when she connected on a cross from sophomore Melissa Stewart, then added her third goal seven minutes later when she again wove between two defenders for a clean shot right in front of the net.

Staerkel’s fourth goal – Basalt’s eighth – came at the close of the first half, when she drove from the left wing, then crossed up Zeigel with a shot that landed just inside the far post.Stewart’s second goal early in the second half put the Longhorns within one of the mercy rule. The sophomore tiptoed down the back line past a defender, then kicked a curving shot past Zeigel, inside the far post.”Really, I wasn’t trying to score,” Stewart said. “I was just trying to cross it. I didn’t know it was going to go in.”While it wasn’t what her coach wanted, Staerkel said that in the long run it was good that the Rams forced her and her teammates to play out both halves.

“We need to get the little things to come and to perfect the little things so later on in the season we can be successful against the bigger Denver teams,” she said.And, luckily, Woods never got a call during the game.”[Athletic director] Mike Green and [football coach] Forrest Grosh were both here in case I needed to leave, so that there would be somebody here to coach,” he said, smiling, before quickly gathering up the team’s equipment. Basalt next plays at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Vail Mountain School.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.com.

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