Longhorns top rival Skiers, 2-0

Jon MaletzAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN The Longhorns had just one practice with a full roster before opening their soccer season Tuesday at rival Aspen.They made it work. Basalt, which had the bulk of its roster absent from practice while making a run at the state basketball championship, came out flat. The Longhorns managed to find their bearings, scored in each half, and began their quest for a 10th consecutive Slope title with a 2-0 win.The win helped the Longhorns avenge a 3-1 loss to the Skiers in April – Aspen’s first to Basalt in nearly seven years.”As coach said, yesterday was three weeks worth of practice rolled into one day,” Longhorns senior Katie Staerkel said. “This was a learning experience. For the first 10 minutes, everybody was running into each other.”At the onset, Basalt hardly looked like the 2006 team that finished with an 11-1 conference record. The Skiers, who lost 13 seniors from last year, controlled the pace. “Amy Brumet, our sweeper, kept us in the game,” Basalt coach Chris Woods said. “We slowly got into the game, and remembered we were playing soccer and not basketball.”The Longhorns generated multiple chances against Aspen freshman goalkeeper Lindsey Anderson. They came away with the game’s first goal during a scramble in the box midway through the half. Kat Fitzpatrick controlled a loose ball in the box ,then passed back to an open Melissa Stewart who fired a strong shot past Anderson.”I was really impressed by our defense, and Lindsey was superb. She’s still learning the trade,” Skiers coach John Gillies said. “This time last year, they beat us by eight goals. Overall, the only difference between the teams was their confidence and effort.”That effort helped yield a second goal midway through the second, this time from Staerkel, the 2005 conference player of the year and a 2006 all-league first-teamer. Stewart dribbled the ball deep into Aspen’s end, then passed out to Staerkel. The senior, who scored 23 goals in 2006, took on a defender, shook off some contact then went high to beat Anderson. “It was a Staerkel special,” Woods said. “This game wasn’t pretty, but it’s a good one to get. We control our destiny right from the start, but there’s still a long way to go.” Gillies didn’t lose sight of that fact either. While the Skiers coach and his players struggled to hide their disappointment, he is hoping Tuesday’s game is just the boost his team needs.”This might evoke more passion in the girls,” he said. “Maybe this is the kick in the backside that we need to jump-start the season.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is