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Skiers avoid a letdown

Jon Maletz
Aspen's Emily Hassall, right, shoots on Roaring Fork's goal Tuesday. The Skiers won, 2-0. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)
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There wasn’t much Aspen girls soccer coach John Gillies could say in the hours before Tuesday’s game with Roaring Fork. No impassioned pregame speech or sideline theatrics would’ve effected the outcome, he said.After experiencing the high of an improbable 3-1 win against Basalt – the Skiers’ first win over their rival in seven years – Gillies said he knew his team would come back to earth Tuesday. After an efficient, yet somewhat lifeless, 2-0 win over the Rams (2-5-4 overall, 1-4-3 Western Slope), Gillies was relieved and more than willing to look ahead.

“I’m happy this game’s over,” Gillies said. “You always [hate] to play a game straight after one like Saturday. A game like this is always gonna be tough. There’s not much I could’ve said or done that would’ve changed that.” For the second time this season, Aspen (10-1, 9-1) struggled against the physical Rams, who again packed the box to slow the Skiers attack. After three shots on Roaring Fork keeper Nicole Smeins in the first two minutes, Aspen’s offense faded. The Skiers routinely stalled at midfield. They were lazy with their first touches, which led to loose balls and hindered the game’s flow.”We didn’t come out prepared,” junior Taylor Buzbee said. “We didn’t take the game seriously. We have a tendency to play to the level of our opponents.”

Despite watching the majority of its attempts sail wide, Aspen was not shy about taking shots on goal. The strategy paid off 30 minutes into the first, when forward Emily Hassall delivered. The senior took possession of a pass in the front of the box, dribbled to her left, then fired a powerful shot past Smeins. Hassall was also responsible for setting up Aspen’s second goal midway through the second half. On a free kick some 20 yards away from the goal, Hassall lofted the ball perfectly into the box; Buzbee waited near the back post, and – after the ball bounced twice, then ricocheted off a Rams defender – she knocked it in.”I tried to get as far back as I could, near the post,” Buzbee said. “Emily set it up, and after the ball was deflected, I knocked it in. Some goals have to be scrappy.”

The Skiers have won seven in a row, dating back to their 4-2 win April 8 at Rangely. Aspen closes out its regular season with three conference home games, the first coming at 4 p.m. Thursday against Coal Ridge; the Skiers have won the first meetings with all three teams remaining on their schedule. “It’s going to be a character-builder from here on out for us,” Gillies said. “This game’s over, and now we can go back to playing like Brazil.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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