Longhorns host ‘great eight’ match
Following their first-round playoff victory last Wednesday, Basalt High boys soccer coach Erik Streff gave his players a couple days off over the weekend.The Longhorns’ season is now in its fourth month, their home field covered in snow, and yet this band of 20 guys couldn’t be happier.Today at 3 p.m., the No. 2 seed ‘Horns (14-1-1 overall) host one of the biggest games in their recent history, a Class 3A state tournament quarterfinal match against No. 7 Peak to Peak (12-4-1).The winner advances to the state final four this Saturday in Arvada, the loser gets the weekend – and eternity, for that matter – off.Basalt is up against an opponent it knows little about, a school that is only two or three years old, according to Streff.”But in they’re in the Metro League with a good record, losing only to Faith [Christian] and Denver Christian in league,” Streff said. “So it’s definitely a team to look out for.”For Basalt, the state quarterfinals represents familiar, bittersweet terrain.Last year, Basalt lost in the quarterfinals 1-0 to Salida. In 2002, Basalt again fell in the quarters 1-0 to Kent Denver. And in 2001, Basalt lost in the semifinals 3-1 to the eventual state champion Colorado Springs Christian School, a match many of the Basalt seniors witnessed from the sidelines as freshmen.”This is where we’ve been at the last couple years,” said Streff, “and a place in the past where we’ve had a hard time. But I think the guys are pumped and ready to go for this quarterfinal.”One thing we talked about after the first [playoff] game was a letdown,” the four-year head coach continued. “The kids know they need to play a full 80 minutes, or however long it goes, to accomplish what they need to.”The Basalt team features a multidimensional attack and defense, with proven scorers Felipe Sanchez, Cy Eaton, Ryan Zubizaretta and Ben Pollock up front, and relentless ball-hawks Brett Guglielmo, Jesse Schoeller, Dennis Morgan, John Paul Fitzpatrick and goalie Jamie Wirkler at the back.”I think [Peak to Peak] is going to be similar to the style that we play, so we’ll need to keep our heads up and keep things positive throughout the game,” said Streff. “And, as I said, keep up the intensity, because I think it’ll be an evenly matched game skillwise.”In situations like this a lot of goals tend to come off set plays – corners and free kicks – and offensively and defensively we need to be ready for those,” he added.As for the snow, well, that’s the least of Streff’s concerns.”There is a bit of snow,” he said, “but we’ll be playing. If we need to, we’ll do whatever it takes to get it cleared and ready for the game.”
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This decision is part of a game plan to focus on giant slalom and slalom in the early part of season. Shiffrin will likely also pass on a speed stop in Val d’Isere from Dec. 18-20.