Longhorns rout Rams in soccer opener

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jim Ryan Special to The Aspen TimesThe Longhorns' Carlos Palomares battles Roaring Fork's Dalton Handy for possession Thursday afternoon at Basalt High School.

BASALT – When asked to describe his team’s play Thursday, Basalt head soccer coach John McDermott repeated the same word multiple times.

“They’re fast,” he said, flashing a smile. “Really fast.”

That speed helped the Longhorns turn their season-opening bout with rival Roaring Fork into a lopsided affair. Basalt pulled ahead in the 13th minute, scored three more times in the opening half and cruised to a 5-1 victory.

“It’s a beautiful game they play,” McDermott said afterward. “Some of these kids are here for three [more] years.”

The young Longhorns struggled to link passes and move the ball during the early going Thursday. Their fortunes changed in an instant, however, when Dylan Ahasic corralled a loose ball and sprinted up the right sideline in the 13th minute. He launched a cross into a crowd that found the feet of Willy Salamanca; the sophomore turned and alertly passed to wide-open teammate Santiago Marciani, who ripped a high liner past Rams goalkeeper Neiby Vargas.

About 13 minutes later, Brandon Henriquez streaked up the middle of the pitch, drew a defender and passed off to a trailing Sebastian Liuzzi, who converted on a powerful blast to stretch the lead to two.

“I’m so proud of the whole team and all their efforts. … That’s why there’s 11 guys on the field,” Liuzzi said.

“Four goals in [27 minutes] is not bad.”

Henriquez joined in the scoring barrage two minutes later, somehow tucking a low shot from left of the net into the far corner.

Teammate Carlos Palomares controlled a ball in the box during a corner kick and scored about 20 seconds before halftime to give the Longhorns a sizable cushion.

“We’ve been here before with Basalt,” Roaring Fork head coach John Ackerman said. “This gives us a real clear picture of where we need [to improve].

“The last half was actually better than the first. That’s always a good sign. Nobody fell apart.”

The Rams appeared to increase their aggressiveness during a physical second half in which the teams traded elbows and verbal jabs on multiple occasions. Roaring Fork managed to find the net in the 63rd minute when Saulito Vega converted a penalty kick.

Unfortunately for the visitors, the goal came 12 minutes after Henriquez scored for a second time.

“This is a little taste of what we can achieve,” Liuzzi said. “As we play, we get better. It’s only a matter of time.”

Basalt is off until Thursday, when it will host Coal Ridge at 4 p.m. in a showdown of two of 3A Region 3’s top squads.