Soccer: Basalt routs VMS
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BASALT – A revamped postseason format effectively will preclude the Basalt soccer team from hosting a 3A playoff game next week.
The Longhorns made sure Thursday’s final appearance on their home pitch was a memorable one. Senior Willy Salamanca scored four goals for a second consecutive game, and Basalt was never tested in a 7-0 rout of Vail Mountain School.
With the win, the Longhorns (9-4-1 overall, 5-1-1 3A Region 3), who did not crack the top 10 in The Denver Post’s latest poll despite their recent victory over third-ranked Coal Ridge, wrapped up second place in the conference. The top eight seeds in the state tournament will host first- and second-round games Oct. 26 and 27.
In previous seasons, the top 16 seeds served as first-round hosts.
“It’s nice to make state, but it’s frustrating for not only us but others who are deserving of a home game,” Basalt head coach Brent Hayes said. “I understand what goes behind it to a point, but it’s a bit unfair. The kids worked hard for home field and a fair seed.
“We wanted to defend our home field one last time. I made a pretty big point of that the last few days.”
His Longhorns got the message. They were clicking from the outset Thursday, scoring four times in the first 20 minutes.
Sean Ryan set up the first score by sprinting up the far sideline, then lofting a perfect cross to hit streaking teammate Hector Chacon in stride. Chacon took a quick touch and went low for the score.
Persistent pressure from the Basalt front line produced another chance in the ninth minute; while he seemingly had no space in which to maneuver mere steps from the goal line, Josue Fernandez fired a shot from a difficult angle that slipped past the outstretched gloves of lanky Gore Rangers goalkeeper William Sterett.
Fernandez’s bid for another score in the 12th minute was deflected, but Salamanca alertly chased down the ball. His initial shot was smothered by Sterett, but Salamanca stuck with it and was rewarded with a goal, giving Basalt a 3-0 advantage.
The Longhorns tacked on one more before the break on one of the season’s most well-executed free kicks. Ivano Del Piccolo hit a shot from just inside midfield that Peter Vasquez camped under a few steps in front of the VMS net and then headed home.
Things did not go quite as smoothly down the stretch.
“I went back and forth from being happy everybody was playing to being frustrated because we were really rough around the edges,” Hayes said. “We were moving the ball back into pressure again and missing goals we can’t afford to miss at the next level. It’s easy to let your guard down when you’re up big and when a lot of players are out of position, but we have to understand that chances don’t come around often when you get to the next round.
“It certainly gives us plenty to work on next week. We won’t be bored for four days of practice.”
Basalt scored three more times in the final half – all on easy tap-ins from Salamanca.
Now, the Longhorns wait for the state-tournament bracket to be released Sunday.
“It was fun to win this one, but I can’t say I’m pleased with the (new format),” Hayes said. “We’ll have to see what happens. I’ll certainly be curious.”
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