Soccer: Bulldogs beat Basalt, 4-1 |

Soccer: Bulldogs beat Basalt, 4-1

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad The Aspen Times

BASALT ” Hotchkiss head soccer coach Elaine Wood didn’t see the collision or the ball roll out of bounds.

Longhorns head coach John McDermott watched the entire sequence unfold from 10 yards away, yet was at a loss for words when trying to explain the ruling after Saturday’s game at Basalt High School.

Longhorns sweeper Marshall Cleveland collided with Bulldogs forward Kevin Hernandez while going for a loose ball in the 57th minute. While no penalty was called, Hernandez dropped to the ground, causing a brief stoppage. Hotchkiss was then awarded an indirect kick about 30 yards from the Basalt net. The Longhorns bench, livid over the ruling, watched helplessly as Manuel Ramirez lofted a ball into the box and a teammate headed it home near the far post to break a one-all tie.

Basalt, which overcame an early deficit in the first half, unraveled. The Bulldogs scored twice more down the stretch to pull out the 4-1 win and secure its first 3A Region 7 championship.

“My kids played really well, but that call took the wind out of our sails,” said McDermott, whose team has locked up one of the league’s four state tournament berths. “Because there was no clear possession when the ball went out, there should have been a drop ball. … They got certain balls in their favor, there’s no doubt about it.”

After the collision, play continued for nearly 10 seconds before a referee blew his whistle as the ball rolled out of play on the near sideline. While the Longhorns argued that no free kick should be awarded on an injury and a drop was in order, the head referee said it was clear Hotchkiss was on the attack and had firmly established possession before the stoppage. Therefore, according to rule, he awarded the Bulldogs the ball on the restart.

“I think so many teams tend to blame stuff on the refs,” Basalt’s Kevin Newland said. “They have so much stuff to look at and little time to make a judgment.”

Hotchkiss seized the opportunity. After connecting for the go-ahead score, the Bulldogs (10-0-4 overall, 8-0-3 conference) wasted little time extending their lead. A botched Longhorns free kick resulted in a Bulldogs rush the other way in the 62nd minute; Alex Quinonez sped past two Basalt defenders, gathered a pass from a teammate and fired high to beat Longhorns goalkeeper Scott Riggins.

With six minutes to play, Basalt defender Eduardo Fernandez was whistled for tackling Hernandez from behind in the box. Kasey Sidor converted the ensuing penalty kick to stretch the Hotchkiss lead to three.

“We had to play a very good game to beat them ” Basalt is a formidable force and has beaten us hard the past few years,” Wood said. “This is huge. I don’t think we’ve ever won here… I’m proud of these boys. They worked so hard for this.”

The Bulldogs opened the scoring in a first half dominated by physical play. Cleveland chose to pass off to a teammate instead of clear a ball deep in the Longhorns’ zone in the 22nd minute. The plan backfired as the pass was bobbled, allowing Hotchkiss’ Brian Hernandez to pick up a steal and streak up the right side. Riggins deflected Hernandez’s shot, but the ball bounced right to Cameron Spadafora on the far side. With nothing but empty net in front of him, Spadafora confidently converted.

The Longhorns loaded the box in the 33rd minute, and both Austin Johnson and Craig Riggins fired shots on Bulldogs keeper Evan Hansen in succession. Riggins’ shot deflected off Hansen’s gloves and right to Newland, who scored the equalizer.

But Basalt’s hopes for a victory in its regular-season finale, one that would’ve clinched a second consecutive league title, were derailed in the 57th minute as Hotchkiss took advantage of a fortunate ruling to pull ahead for good.

“I had my head turned, so I didn’t see what happened,” Wood said. “I did see us score. That definitely helped us with momentum.”

Newland admitted the goal discouraged the Longhorns.

“After that second goal, we just fell apart,” he added. “We let the anger get to our heads. That can be a bad thing, especially in soccer.”

This is the second time this season that a referee’s ruling has come into play during a Basalt-Hotchkiss tussle. McDermott took issue with a hand ball whistle in his team’s box ” a call he contended was made by a referee “about 80 yards” away ” midway through the second half Sept. 27 that gave the Bulldogs a penalty kick. Hotchkiss wound up converting, then scored one minute later to wipe away the Longhorns’ two-goal lead. The game ultimately ended in a draw.

“Those things happen. … I wish we could’ve come back in those games,” Newland said. “I think we’ll learn from our mistakes and come out stronger.”

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