Longhorns soccer opens season of great expectations
With good reason, there is a great feeling of optimism surrounding the Basalt High School boys soccer team this season.For starters, the Longhorns enter the 2004 season as the three-time, defending Class 3A Western Slope League champions. En route to the third straight league title, the Longhorns went 12-4-1 overall last season (9-0-1 in league) and advanced to the quarterfinals of the Class 3A state tournament.And last year’s team is back, largely intact. Basalt returns eight starters to its 2004 lineup, including scoring sensations Cy Eaton and Felipe Sanchez. Junior Jamie Wirkler returns as three-year starter in net. Then on Aug. 16, the very first day of fall sports practice across the state, the coach of the Aspen High boys team, Junior Sutherland, went so far as to pick Basalt to win it all.
But first things first: Today at 3 p.m. near Denver the Longhorns open the season against a mighty foe, the defending Class 3A state champion Faith Christian. On Saturday at 10 a.m. in Denver, the ‘Horns face another Metro League perennial power in Colorado Academy.”The team feels like we’re strong enough to do it,” said fourth-year Basalt head coach Erik Streff yesterday, “it” meaning that state title the team has never captured.”But they also know they need to work hard, take each game in stride, one at a time, and we know our first couple of games are against powerhouses from the Metro League,” he added.”Right away, we’ll know where we stand, I think.”Sanchez, a junior midfielder and forward who has started since his freshman year, scored 16 goals last season to lead the Longhorns and finish in the top 10 in the Class 3A statewide rankings.
Eaton, a senior midfielder, was not far behind in the points tally.”It all starts with Cy,” said Streff. “He controls a lot of games in the midfield.”And Felipe, in his third year on varsity, has been better and better every year. And we’re expecting a lot from him this year,” Streff continued.Senior defenders Jesse Schoeller and Brett Guglielmo return to anchor the backfield, while Wirkler represents “a very important strength for us in the net,” said Streff.Junior Ben Pollock, a relentless patroller of the wings, will be back to the annoyance of many opponents.
“We have a very good core group,” said Streff.”And the last couple years we’ve done very well. The main focus now is just concentrating more. They know what their potential is and they’re trying to focus as a team, push each other and build the team up,” he added.Basalt opens at home next Tuesday, Sept. 7, against Paonia.
Let’s make some skiing predictions. I made my X Games snowboarding predictions a day earlier and remain only mildly lukewarm in terms of confidence, but maybe I’ll feel better about the skiers.