Soccer: Aspen girls rebound, down Bears |

Soccer: Aspen girls rebound, down Bears

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Jon Maletz/The Aspen TimesThe Skiers' Shannon Waititi (10) collides with Rifle's Luz Galaviz on Thursday at Aspen High School.

ASPEN – Aspen head soccer coach John Gillies admits that it is difficult keeping his players focused this time of year – particularly during a week that falls between spring break and Ex-Ed.

While Thursday would not qualify as their strongest effort of the season, Gillies and his Skiers sure will take it. They shook off a slow start, scored three times in the final 40 minutes and coasted to a 4-1 win over visiting Rifle.

“That first half, some of the shots we took were ridiculous,” Gillies said. “They didn’t have a clue where they were and weren’t concentrating. … When we play against smaller teams, we seem to go into halftime at (1-0) all the time.

“In the second half, they got it together a little bit. All of sudden, they weren’t just kicking it 10 yards and panicking.”

Aspen (8-1-1), which could muster no goals in Wednesday’s loss to Vail Mountain School, found the net twice in a three-minute span early in the second half Thursday to all but put this match out of reach. Junior Yosaline Ayala stretched the Skiers’ lead to two in the 44th minute, corralling the ball in a crowded box and converting from close range.

Soon after, Tati Armstrong launched an accurate free kick into the box, and Annabelle Wilcox slipped a shot past the Bears keeper.

“The forwards actually looked like they knew where they were on the field,” Gillies remarked. “They actually started running with (the ball).”

That was the case in the 75th minute, when senior Annie Graber sprinted past her defender on a run up the right side of the pitch. She then took on the keeper and drilled a shot into the far corner, giving Aspen a 4-1 lead.

“When you’re out in front (of a defender) with the ball, the worst thing that’s going to happen is a penalty,” Gillies said. “We looked a lot better in the second.”

The goal was Graber’s second of the game; she found some open space in the middle of the defense in the sixth minute and clipped the net with a powerful blast.

Rifle’s lone score came in the 52nd minute, when Sarah McCutchan knifed through no fewer than two defenders and beat Aspen goalkeeper Sally McGuren with a low liner.

The Bears could pull no closer than two.

“Going into Ex-Ed with another win in the league, as far as confidence goes we’re happy,” Gillies said. “If we keep doing what we’re doing, we’re fine. They won’t be refreshed when they come back because they’ll be hiking or biking 150 miles … but we’ll see how they respond. We’ll see how they want it. It’s in their hands.”

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