Mustangs wrangle Skiers

Jon MaletzAspen, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times

ASPEN The Skiers girls soccer team may want to reconsider scheduling future games with Manitou Springs. The Mustangs wore out the Aspen High FieldTurf on Friday.Manitou (5-1), currently ranked third in the Rocky Mountain News’ 3A rankings, scored three goals in the first 11 minutes then coasted to the 6-0 victory. Aspen could muster just two shot attempts in 80 minutes.”We started off slow, dipped in the middle then faded toward the end,” Aspen coach John Gillies joked. “They were a good passing team, and we weren’t fighting to get to balls first.” The Mustangs, fresh off a 10-goal win Tuesday against Rye, pulled ahead just three minutes into the contest. Jordan Lang shook free in the box as Manitou surrounded the Aspen net and was tackled from behind. On the ensuing penalty kick, Lang fired a hard grounder into the right corner of the net; Skiers freshman goalkeeper Lindsey Anderson hardly moved.Crisp passing in the Skiers zone produced another scoring chance for the Mustangs less than a minute and a half later. Hannah Stamp dribbled between two defenders, paused then fired a shot that bounced off Anderson’s glove tips and into the net. Aspen hardly had time to breath before Manitou went on the attack once more. With 29 minutes to play, Abby Nimz one-touched a ball out of midair to teammate Megan Ausec; Ausec corralled the ball, let it fall to her foot, then finished.

“That’s the best we’ve played all year,” Mustangs coach Matt Barton said. “We’ve really been working on playing as a team. Today, there wasn’t one person you could single out. We were coming from everywhere.”We have wheels, and I always want to run.”Those wheels yielded a fourth first half score with 18 minutes to play. Manitou sophomore Chelsi Lujan beat a defender then, after finding some open space, paused for a few moments, then wound up for a strong shot that beat Anderson. “When we play like that, it’s fun to watch,” Barton said.It wasn’t much fun for the Skiers, whose three-game winning streak was halted in humbling fashion. Lang scored her second goal just 40 seconds into the second half when she beat a defender, then fired a shot from 20 yards out; Anderson backpedaled with arms outstretched, but the ball sailed over her and narrowly sailed under the crossbar.Lang lofted a corner into the box with 31 minutes to play and Sarah Hartman beat a host of defenders for Manitou’s sixth goal.

“I’m not going to say again that this was a kick in the back we needed. We know what we need to do,” Gillies said. “Every year we end up going to Denver and being unprepared to play against strong teams. I’d rather be playing more teams like this early on.”The Mustangs will look to down another 3A Western Slope opponent when they take on undefeated Basalt today. Aspen next plays Saturday against Olathe.Basalt 1, St. Mary’s 0Basalt coach Chris Woods advised his players to not be discouraged after watching multiple scoring chances ring off the post in the first half of Friday’s game with St. Mary’s.”We joked that we needed to be patient because they had God on their side,” Woods joked. “We were dominating the game so we stayed positive.”That dominance finally yielded a goal early in the second off the leg of Katheryne Fitzpatrick and Basalt, which is averaging nearly six goals scored five games this season, pulled out a close one, holding on for the 1-0 win.

“This was a good chance for us to see where we are against a good team,” Woods said. “We had so many chances in the first and we hit the post so many times. I told them to be patient because it will come.”That breakthrough came five minutes into the second. Senior Bailey Holmes picked up a ball that had rolled out of play and hastily fired an inbounds pass over the head of Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick ran down the ball, beat a defender then finished with a shot that, fittingly, hit the far right post and bounded into the net for the eventual game-winner. The Longhorns clamped down defensively, and completed its fifth consecutive shutout to open the season.”Our defense played phenomenal. Our four defenders are the best in the state,” Woods said. “[St. Mary’s] wasn’t physical, but they were very quick. They gave us a really good game.”The Longhorns figure to receive another stiff test when they host Manitou Springs today at 11 a.m.”We like [Manitou Springs] because they’re a public school. It’ll be a battle within a friendly because we want one of us to win the championship,” Woods said. “We’ll go out and learn a little bit more about ourselves.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is