Soccer: Aspen girls golden in OT in Carbondale
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE – The Armstrong-to-Graber connection has been deadly for the Aspen girls soccer team this spring. Monday, the duo hooked up once more in Carbondale, securing a victory in the Skiers’ final tune-up before an all-important trip to Vail Mountain School.
Annie Graber headed home a well-placed corner from Tati Armstrong about two minutes into the first five-minute extra period, propelling Aspen to a 1-0 win over Roaring Fork.
The Skiers currently are 10-1-3 overall and 7-0-1 in a tightly bunched 3A Region 3 conference – good for first place. They can lock up a league crown with a victory in Thursday’s regular-season finale against the Gore Rangers.
After a trying week highlighted by consecutive draws against league heavyweights Basalt and Coal Ridge, Aspen head coach John Gillies said Monday amounted to a must win.
“These last three games on the grass were really tough for us. We needed a win before we went to Vail,” he added. “We’re glad we got the result.”
The Skiers were tested throughout in their friendly with a Rams team they topped, 2-1, in the squads’ first meeting March 13. Playing a fourth game in seven days appeared to take its toll on the visitors.
“We were very, very sluggish. We looked tired,” Gillies admitted. “We just weren’t creating that many chances – I think we had one good opportunity the whole game. … Honestly, it was painful to watch in places, like watching pinball with the ball going back and forth. I couldn’t wait for it to be over.”
Gillies and company had to wait more than 80 minutes to pull this one out. Then, Armstrong and Graber helped Aspen avoid a fourth draw this spring. The scene was reminiscent of March 15’s home game against Basalt, when Graber headed an Armstrong corner into the back of the net to break a one-all tie. The Skiers went on to win, 4-1, besting their downvalley rivals for the first time since 2006.
Now, the scene shifts to Vail.
Should the Skiers come up short against VMS, a team that blanked Aspen 1-0 on April 11, things could get complicated. Coal Ridge, second in the league at 5-0-2 entering Monday’s game with struggling Vail Christian, visits Basalt on Thursday.
Gillies doesn’t expect the league crown to come down to a confusing tiebreaker.
“We’re going to win in Vail,” Gillies asserted. “I’m confident. The girls have gotten over so many hurdles and so many barriers. I think they deserve to win it. They know what’s at stake, and they’ve worked hard enough to reap the rewards.”
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The dual-sport student-athlete was named to the Class 3A Western Slope League all-conference first team for softball as one of two Carbondale players on the Basalt High School softball team team last fall.