Preps: Aspen girls soccer rolls on, to get playoff rematch with Manitou Springs
Aspen girls lacrosse also advanced with a win over Cherokee Trail
Last spring, the Aspen High School girls soccer team beat Manitou Springs in arguably the biggest upset of the Class 3A state tournament. On Saturday, the teams will meet again in the second round of the playoffs after both sides took care of business in their postseason openers on Thursday.
“Obviously teams change throughout the years, but I think our team can come in again with confidence in knowing we beat them last year, so we definitely have a chance to beat them again this year,” AHS senior Jenny Ellis said. “It feels really good to get the first playoff game out of the way. It was nice because it feels surreal, definitely, for the seniors for it being probably our last game on the high school turf, and I’m glad we put it to bed and got that out of the way. We are super excited to be moving forward and hopefully continuing our playoff journey.”
Aspen (12-3-1), the No. 9 seed in the 32-team bracket this year, had little issue putting away No. 24 seed Conservatory Green (10-4), one of the Denver School of Science and Technology programs, in their first-round game Thursday night on the AHS turf. The Skiers won, 11-1, after leading 8-1 at halftime and reached the 10-goal mercy limit with about eight minutes to play in regulation.
“We wanted to make sure they were working on their passing patterns that we worked on in practice,” AHS coach Chris Ellis said, “and making sure that everybody was familiar with their positions and how they were going to go about the game and still being disciplined with what they do.”
Lexi Cordts-Pearce led the Skiers with four goals, while Jenny Ellis — the coach’s daughter — had three goals. Sienna Hendrickson had two, with Taylor Lewis and Reese Leonard each scoring once.
Now, it’s onto Saturday’s rematch with No. 8 seed Manitou Springs (12-3-1), which beat No. 25 seed St. Mary’s Academy in the first round on Thursday, 7-0.
“A game like this definitely helps us gain confidence and we have the ability to keep moving forward and beating these Denver teams,” Jenny Ellis said. “But we should put this game behind us and keep moving forward thinking that tougher games are to come and we still have to play our hardest.”
Last spring, in a condensed 16-team playoff bracket because of the pandemic, No. 15 seed Aspen went on the road and stunned No. 2 Manitou Springs in the first round, winning 5-1. AHS then lost in the second round at No. 10 Colorado Academy, 5-0, a team that went on to lose to No. 1 Kent Denver in the final.
While both rosters will likely look a bit different than they did a year ago, that upset will likely remain on the minds of everyone going into the weekend.
Photos: Aspen girls soccer vs Conservatory Green
“I’m very aware that is going to be the first thing on their mind,” Chris Ellis said. “They are going to want a little bit of revenge. I think 12 months later, they may well have a very different team and we have a different team, so it may well be the same schools competing against each other, but the players could be quite different. So I come into it completely fresh.”
A game time wasn’t confirmed as of Thursday evening, but Chris Ellis expects around a 6 p.m. start on Saturday in Manitou Springs. The winner will advance to Tuesday’s quarterfinal round against the winner of No. 1 Kent Denver and No. 17 The Academy, hosted by the highest remaining seed.
Elsewhere Thursday, the Basalt High School girls soccer season came to an end when the No. 27-seeded Longhorns lost at No. 6 Colorado Springs Christian, 6-1. CSC moves on to face No. 11 Liberty Common in the second round. Roaring Fork, the No. 23 seed, lost in the first round to No. 10 Eagle Ridge Academy, 2-0.
Also representing the Western Slope, No. 4 Vail Mountain beat No. 29 Severance, 10-0, and No. 14 Delta beat No. 19 Salida, 3-1.
Aspen girls lacrosse advances past Cherokee Trail
Earlier Thursday, the Aspen High School girls lacrosse team won a thriller, beating No. 10 Cherokee Trail, 7-6, to advance to Saturday’s state quarterfinals. AHS, now 12-4 overall, is the No. 7 seed in Class 4A and had a first-round bye. Cherokee Trail had beaten No. 23 Rampart in the first round on Tuesday.
Trailing by a couple of goals late, the Skiers rallied back against the Cougars, tying the game at 6-each with just under 10 minutes to play and then took the lead as the clock dipped below eight minutes remaining, that goal courtesy of a critical handling miscue by the Cougars’ goalie.
The game ended with a bit of drama as Cherokee Trail scored what looked like the game-tying goal as the buzzer sounded after a restart with about two seconds to go. However, after regulation had seemingly ended and the officials conferred with the rule book, they decided that play should not have been stopped as it was and therefore the clock would have run out to end the contest.
Photos: Aspen girls lacrosse vs Cherokee Trail
The announcement was made over the public address system, dramatically ending the game with AHS up 7-6.
This means Aspen moves on to play at No. 2 seed Thompson Valley on Saturday in the quarterfinals. Thompson Valley beat No. 15 Roaring Fork in the Round of 16 on Thursday, 19-13, ending any chance of an all-Roaring Fork Valley playoff matchup.
No. 9 seed Battle Mountain did advance from this side of the divide, beating No. 8 Northfield on Thursday, 19-17. The Huskies will play No. 1 Evergreen in the quarterfinals.
After beating Rangeview on Tuesday in the first round, 13-8, the No. 11-seeded Aspen boys lacrosse team is set to play Friday at No. 6 Vail Mountain in the Round of 16. That game is scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m. in Vail.
The league rivals split their two games during the regular season. The winner of the grudge match will move onto Tuesday’s quarterfinals against either No. 3 Cheyenne Mountain or No. 14 Battle Mountain.
Girls tennis season comes to an end
The Aspen High School girls tennis team’s season came to an end Thursday in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament in Colorado Springs.
At No. 1 singles, AHS junior Avery Leonard lost to St. Mary’s senior Ellie Hartman, 6-0, 6-1. Hartman beat her next opponent, 6-3, 6-3, to advance to Friday’s semifinals.
At No. 2 singles, Aspen senior Gemma Hill lost to Holy Family sophomore Laura Baker, 6-2, 6-0. Baker then lost in the quarterfinals.
Leonard and Hill were Aspen’s lone state qualifiers. Basalt did not have anyone competing at state.
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Like most high school sports programs across the nation right now, Garfield County athletics directors are seeing fewer applicants for open coaching positions. Five years ago vacant positions were filled within just a couple of days.