Aspen High boys soccer brings experience, hope into 2017 season
2017 Aspen High boys soccer schedule
Wednesday vs. Vail Mountain
Friday at Jefferson Academy
Saturday at Lutheran
Sept. 5 at Summit
Sept. 7 vs. Basalt
Sept. 21 at Middle Park
Sept. 23 at Vail Mountain
Sept. 26 vs. Roaring Fork
Sept. 30 vs. Moffat County
Oct. 3 at Grand Valley
Oct. 7 vs. Delta
Oct. 10 at CRMS
Oct. 14 vs. Coal Ridge
Oct. 19 at BasaltOct. 21 vs. Grand Valley
The last time the Aspen High School boys soccer team laced it up, the Skiers pulled out a stunning senior day victory over rival Basalt.
Ranked No. 48 in RPI entering that game and with no tomorrow to be had, the Skiers received a goal from Alex Gordon in overtime for a 1-0 victory against a Basalt team ranked No. 6 in RPI.
“Everything kind of fell our way that day,” AHS coach Dave Francis recalled at practice earlier this month. “That was an epic way to finish a season. It’s great to finish that way and go out on a high. We were ecstatic to say the least with that one.”
Aspen finished 5-9-1 overall in 2016 but won four of its final six games. The hope is that late-season push, highlighted by the stunner over Basalt, will carry into this fall. The Skiers enter 2017 with high expectations considering it only graduated two varsity seniors.
“We want to pick up where we left off from last season and try to win as many games as possible,” senior Nick Tran said. “We are looking fit this year. Hopefully we can get a winning season. This year I think we want it more. This group of guys, we are going to get some wins.”
The Skiers open the season Wednesday with a 6 p.m. home game against Vail Mountain. The Gore Rangers were a No. 4 seed in the Class 3A state tournament last season, going 14-4 overall and making the state quarterfinals. Aspen’s second game is Friday at Jefferson Academy, the No. 6 seed in 3A that lost to Kent Denver in the state championship game. The Jaguars beat Basalt 1-0 in the second round of the playoffs.
“We don’t like it easy,” Francis joked about the difficult start to the season. “We are hoping for good things. We are hoping to improve on last year’s results and improve on last year’s position and making the playoffs is always our first aim.”
General youthfulness and a rash of injuries limited the Skiers in 2016. Both of their varsity seniors from 2016 — Harry Kahn and Guillermo Flores — were hurt more often than not. This led to many losses early in the fall and kept Aspen out of the postseason for the first time since 2013.
The team brings back a lot of experience this season, including Tran, Gordon, Tyler Clayton, Edgar Ortiz and senior goalie Jake Bassi, among others.
“It was tough because we only had a few senior players and we lost those senior players (due to injury). But it was a good learning curve for the younger guys,” Francis said of 2016. “Each grade has some really good, solid players, and there are good numbers of them. So we are excited. We are excited for the next few years looking at this group.”
Join the Club
Francis also wanted to mention the Aspen United Soccer Club, of which he is the director of coaching. The club has gone through its ups and downs over the years, but Francis feels it is again in a good position as the busy club season gets underway this fall.
“They really built up the numbers, but we just didn’t have the resources and the facilities to go with the numbers we got, and the club became a little overwhelmed,” Francis said of the club’s failings in years past. “They (the board) are working so hard to get everything into place so this club can really perform well for the members that it has.”
The club offers U10, U12, U15 and U19 teams. For more information, visit http://www.aspenunited.com.
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