Soccer: Basalt outshines Aspen under the lights
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – The Basalt soccer team survived multiple scares in the first half Monday night in Aspen.
In the second, the Longhorns produced the match’s lone goal – and effectively extinguished their valley rival’s postseason aspirations.
Elmer Rodriguez scored in the 56th minute against a depleted Skiers defense, and Basalt hung on for a 1-0 victory, securing a season sweep of Aspen.
The loss dropped the Skiers to 6-6-2 overall and 2-3 in 3A Region 3 play. Coal Ridge, Roaring Fork and the Longhorns (7-3-1, 3-1-1) each have only one conference loss.
“We knew if we were going to state we’d have to win all three of our games (this week),” Aspen head coach Junior Sutherland said. “It’s tough. We dominated them in the first half, and we had more clear-cut chances than they did. This is a game we didn’t deserve to lose. I’m sure they feel lucky to walk away with a win here tonight.”
Basalt head coach Brent Hayes admitted that his squad was fortunate to escape the first half with a tie. Aspen came out firing under the lights, producing no fewer than four prime scoring chances in the opening 40 minutes.
Two came from freshman standout Edwin Soto, who ripped shots in the 26th and 35th minutes that sailed little more than a foot wide of the post.
“We never have an easy time up here. It always seems to be a one-goal game,” said Hayes, whose squad cruised past the Skiers, 4-1, on Sept. 20. “I was extremely frustrated with the way the team played in the first half. I haven’t seen them play that bad, and frankly, we made Aspen look good. I haven’t been that pissed off at halftime in a long time.
“My team came out in the second half and showed Aspen that clearly we’re the better team. We controlled the entire half, and they had nothing as far as I’m concerned.”
The Skiers defense was dealt a heavy blow in the waning moments of the first, when sweeper Erik Wehse leapt to contest a shot in the box, fell over a Longhorns player and appeared to hit his head on the turf.
The senior was complaining of concussion-like symptoms during halftime and did not return to the pitch.
“Of course it (hurts) when you lose a guy of his caliber,” Sutherland said. “The kids realize it, and we were a little weaker at the back, but you’ve got to adapt. Things happen.”
Basalt took advantage. After Aspen forward Colter Robinson narrowly missed from close range in the 56th minute, the Longhorns quickly countered. A few seconds later, Elmer Rodriguez corralled the ball about 30 yards from the Skiers net with no defenders in close proximity.
He let it fly.
“Sean (Ryan) kind of ran by everybody, lost it for a second, then fought back and got it and got it to Elmer for what I want him to do more of – take the shot,” Hayes said. “I told them to start playing the game they know how to play. Frankly, I told them (the Skiers) were tired and we could run around them, and that’s what they did. They were patient and did it when it counted.”
Added Sutherland, “It was a weak goal to lose as far as we’re concerned. We battled hard in the second half, and it was a pretty even overall game. The guys played brilliant, no question about it.”
Aspen will close out the season with road games against Colorado Rocky Mountain School (today) and Moffatt County on Saturday.
The Longhorns, meanwhile, will step out of conference Saturday to take on Battle Mountain, the second-ranked team in The Denver Post’s latest 4A poll, then close the season with games at CRMS (Oct. 16) and at home against Vail Mountain School (Oct. 18).
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