Soccer: Basalt beats Aspen with strong second half |

Soccer: Basalt beats Aspen with strong second half

Basalt's Aaron Lopez, left, battles with Aspen's Alex Gordon for possession of the ball Thursday in Basalt. The Longhorns won 4-2 in their home opener.
Austin Colbert/The Aspen Times |

It took some defensive tightening, an advantageous second-half wind and some tired legs on the opposing side, but the Basalt High School boys soccer team found a way past Aspen High School on Thursday in its home opener, a 4-2 win at the BHS soccer field.

“We picked up our intensity, we had the wind, and we prevailed in a pretty tight game,” Basalt coach Brent Hayes said of his team’s strong second-half performance. “It’s always a fun, tight game with Aspen. It’s kind of what I expected on both sides. Just good, solid play.”

In the first of two matches the teams will play this season, Basalt (2-1) had its hands full against Aspen (0-4-1), a team still searching for its first win. Although, after Basalt’s Brayon Ayon scored barely a minute into the game, Aspen needed a quick answer to remain upright, and got it when Connor Ding responded with a goal of his own only a minute later.

“I was really happy with that first half. I was happy with how we came out in the game,” Aspen coach Dave Francis said. “We conceded within 90 seconds, but at least we had intensity. We didn’t get overrun. We came back quickly. They showed confidence. If these boys can just cut out a couple of mistakes, then they’ll have some real success.”

The Skiers followed that quick response with another goal — Alex Gordon found net in the 13th minute to give Aspen a 2-1 lead. Only four minutes later, Basalt’s Bear Matthews scored the equalizer, and the teams went to halftime tied with two goals each.

“That first half was crazy, for both teams to just trade goals like that,” Hayes said. “Our defense had no shape first half. They were playing the ball way too far out.”

Basalt’s halftime adjustments started in the back with the Longhorn defense keying on Aspen speedsters Edgar Ortiz and Guillermo Flores, both of whom Hayes thought were too quick for the sort of defense Basalt was playing.

A tighter defense quickly led to offensive chances, and Matthews scored his second goal in the 46th minute to give Basalt a 3-2 edge. Elmer Bonilla tacked on one more with about 23 minutes to play, giving the Basalt defense a two-goal cushion the remainder of the game.

“It’s still disappointing we are conceding two or three goals from mistakes, as much as anything else,” Francis said. “They worked hard. Ran out of steam, I think, in the second half. Finished strong. Last five minutes we started to move the ball again, got some energy back and created some chances. There are a lot of positives. We just need that break.”

Aspen is off next week, its next match being a Sept. 22 home game against Middle Park.

Basalt will get one practice in before it travels to Roaring Fork on Monday.

“Aspen is always our biggest rival, and Roaring Fork has kind of turned into our next one,” Hayes said. “So two huge, early-season games that will help us figure out what’s going on.”

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