Six seniors earn postseason honors for Basalt soccer
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BASALT ” John McDermott is still getting accustomed to finishing second.
When reached Friday, the Basalt soccer coach said he was pleased with the selection of the six seniors from his team for Region 7 postseason honors earlier this week. But he also could not help but mention that he thought there was one name missing from the list.
“Usually, I get about five or six players on the first team when we win the league,” said McDermott, whose team finished runner- up to new 3A state champion Hotchkiss in the Region 7 title chase. ” When you don’t win league, you don’t get as big of a choice.”
The silver lining? Junior Omar Lopez, the one player McDermott thought deserved some nod of recognition from opposing Region 7 coaches, still has one more chance next season.
The four Basalt seniors chosen for the All- Conference team were Marshall Cleveland, Austin Johnson, Craig Riggins and Kevin Newland. Kenneth Reyes and Sinji Sanyo earned honorable mentions.
Cleveland and Johnson were the Longhorns’ co- captains and, as McDer mott described, the glue that kept Basalt ( 11- 5- 2) together throughout an up and- down season that included two wins over rival Aspen and ended with a 1- 0 loss to Fountain Valley in the 3A quarterfinal round.
Cleveland moved out of goal this fall to play sweeper, a position that allowed him to showcase his athleticism and soccer smarts. His impact went beyond his modest offensive numbers, McDer mott said.
“He’s the best sweeper you’ve ever seen,” McDermott said. “No one ever got past him. He’s just an amazing athlete.”
As for Johnson, who rotated between center midfield and forward, McDermott was most impressed by how the senior responded to a leadership position on the team. One season after leading the team in yellow cards, Johnson showed how much he had matured.
“Both Marshall and Austin were just great this year,” McDermott said. “Everything just trickled down from them. They were both very composed.”
Riggins rejoined the soccer team this season after playing football as a junior and a sophomore and didn’t miss a beat playing forward, leading the Longhorns in goals. (Final season statistics were not available.)
“I’d seen him play soccer in the spring, so I knew what potential he had,” McDermott said. ” If you got him the ball, he could score.”
That’s an understatement. Riggins connected on two goals in Basalt’s 7- 0 rout of Crested Butte in the first round of the playoffs, then scored the lone Longhorns’ goal in Basalt’s upset of No. 5 Weld Central in the second round.
Newland’s speed and fitness were his greatest assets, McDermott said. The right midfielder was a steady presence on the field and kept defenses honest with timely goals.
“When he got on the field, he was just a different person,” McDermott said. “He’s just so fast.”
Reyes, who joined the team this fall, also had two goals in the rout of Crested Butte and, like Riggins, was a bonafide threat to score every time he touched the ball.
“Kenny was just amazing,” McDer mott said. ” He just added so much to the attack. He was always there.”
Sanyo wasn’t a new addition this fall, but he might as well have been, McDermott said. As a junior, Sanyo walked away from the team midseason, but came back this fall with a renewed sense of purpose.
McDermott said he was proud of Sanyo’s commitment to the team and his consistent effort.
“It’s not about being the best player, but it’s the attitude they have when they come out to play,” the coach said. “To play and just keep his attitude up all year, I was really pleased with that.”
While the Longhorns lose all six postseason honorees to graduation, McDermott said he feels good about the future of his program. He also said his team’s near upset of Fountain Valley and Hotchkiss’ championship run proves that Western Slope teams are closing the competitive gap between themselves and teams on the Front Range.
“I’m losing six, but I’ve got a lot of great freshmen coming up and I’ve got some really strong juniors,” McDermott said. ” I know the team can put it together again.”
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