Skiers rally past upstart Rams in OT

Nate PetersonAspen, CO Colorado
Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times

ASPEN Aspen sophomore Lizzy Eastley assumed Thursday night’s home soccer game against Roaring Fork would be another Skiers cakewalk.She spoke for the majority of the teammates, who left the field at halftime in a state of disbelief after the Rams punched in two first-half goals off just three shots. After a tongue-lashing from head coach John Gillies, the Skiers returned to the pitch with newfound resolve, and thanks to Eastley’s right foot, managed to avoid starting the season 0-2. Eastley netted Aspen’s first goal of the night 26 minutes into the second half, then delivered again in the first of two five-minute extra periods to give the Skiers a 3-2 overtime win. Aspen senior Julia Hassall – after misfiring multiple times in front of the Rams’ net – delivered Aspen’s equalizer in the 70th minute to force extra play. After Eastley’s goal, the Skiers (1-1) never allowed another shot on goal from the Rams (0-2) and held on for the win.

“We got pretty warmed up in the second half,” Eastley said. “It upset us that we were losing. We came out here and thought that it was going to be a like a fun little match. But after the intensity picked up, we handled it under pressure.”Following a sloppy 2-0 loss Tuesday to rival Basalt, Gillies said he was “pulling his hair out in practice” Wednesday.”I mean, it didn’t seem to bother them that we got beat by Basalt,” he said. “Practice yesterday was ridiculous, and I’m out there saying, ‘What can I do to get these girls going?’ Well, Roaring Fork has just done it for us.”There wasn’t a lot of finesse and grace or anything played out there today, but what it did show is the team’s got plenty of character.”Roaring Fork coach Brad Zeigel said he knew Aspen wouldn’t roll over in the second half after his team took its early lead. Even in defeat, he was proud of the effort of his players. The Rams returned only one senior this season and have five new starters.

“A lot of new players who haven’t played much, so it’s fun to see them having some success and scoring some goals tonight,” he said. The Rams’ lone senior, Taylor Wagner, opened the scoring in the 28th minute on a breakaway when she squeezed a shot past charging Aspen keeper Lindsey Anderson. Rams sophomore Hanna Burleigh scored on another breakaway with only two minutes remaining in the half. After she skipped through a slide tackle from Aspen’s Page Cottrell, Burleigh had an unimpeted route to the goal and fire a high shot that Anderson managed to get a hand on, but still found its way into the back of the net. “It was such a nice surprise,” Wagner said of the lead. “I didn’t think we’d play that well against them, but we played well as a team, and our passes were just connecting really well. I knew they were coming back, though. I was trying to pump my team and tell them how much we wanted it, because I’ve played these girls for the past three years, and I knew how bad they were going to want it. I just don’t think we had the stamina.”We had the heart, we just didn’t have the legs”

Gillies said he wasn’t surprised when Roaring Fork scored its second goal. His team set the pace in the first 20 minutes of the first half, and Hassall had two point-blank shots, but it was all for naught when Wagner swung the momentum with the opening goal.”It’s the same as most games – you miss those opportunities at first, and then you give up a breakaway goal,” he said. “These girls on paper and individually have great ability, but it’s trying to get them to play together.”Aspen (1-1) plays next at Olathe at 11 a.m. Saturday.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is