Soccer rivals Aspen, Basalt play to scoreless tie

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – The coaches of the rival high school soccer teams shared more than a 0-0 overtime tie Thursday afternoon. They shared the same brilliant, sun-soaked smile.

Two happy coaches in a scoreless tie?

Aspen High School girls coach John Gillies beamed after the season-opening tie.

Basalt’s Makenzie Eshelman couldn’t stop smiling after the Longhorns and Skiers raced end to end on Aspen’s all-weather turf, through 80 minutes of regulation and two 5-minute overtime periods.


“That was the greatest 0-0 game you’re likely to watch on the Western Slope,” Gillies said. “It’s just a great rivalry. It could have went either way.”

He said the Skiers created a number of scoring chances in the first half.

“The second half was definitely Basalt pushing us,” Gillies said, crediting a new defense for the Skiers turning back countless attacks and counterattacks from the Longhorns.

“Give credit to them, coming here and playing on our (big) field. Makenzie’s got a good bunch of kids. They work hard,” said Gillies, who watched all-conference goalkeeper Sally McGuren anchor the Aspen defense with 18 saves Thursday afternoon.

She was tested early on a laser shot from Basalt’s Lindsey Corzine on a play that jolted the crowd to life in the first half.

“That save in the first half was phenomenal,” Gillies said. “That’s the best save she’ll ever make.”

Basalt’s Carina Capobianco and Myda Ramirez might argue with that.

Capobianco blasted a shot that McGuren saved with 4:12 to play in regulation, bringing the home crowd to its feet.

Then, in the second overtime, McGuren stopped a point-blank shot from Ramirez with just 59 seconds remaining.

“She (McGuren) did a really good job (Thursday),” Aspen senior Katrina Klawiter said of her teammate. “She saved the game for us. Those slide tackles, when she took people out, they were amazing. She was killing it.”

Klawiter said the Skiers had a lot of good shots in the first half, but were unable to finish.

That meant tightening up the defense and holding possession in the second half, she said.

“We needed to keep the defense strong,” she said, commending the defensive efforts of teammates Areanna Galant and Katherine Milette.

“We switched (the defense) up a little,” she said of a major realignment by the Aspen defensive unit.

They had to face the relentless Longhorns, who hammered 20 shots against the Skiers.

“I thought my girls rose to the occasion. They played very well,” said Eshelman, the former Longhorns standout who’s in her fifth year at the head coach of her alma mater.

“This is a big field to come out and have your first real game,” she said of Aspen’s spaciously wide soccer pitch, wider than most high school soccer fields.

She said the Longhorns had to count on their conditioning, especially in the second half and overtime.

“I was very impressed with how our girls held up. In early season games, it really isn’t about talent, it’s about heart,” Eshelman said.

“And we had some opportunities, but we couldn’t finish. But I think a lot of that is we haven’t shot on a real goal this year,” the Basalt coach said.

With Naomi Henefeld and Shelley Briscoe making key plays in the midfield and on defense, Basalt protected the shutout in front of goalkeeper Cira Mylott, who had 16 saves.

“It’s good to have her back,” Eshelman said. “She’s solid; she’s confident.”

Both coaches said their teams adjusted to the physical level of play consistent with a friendly rivalry match.

“I think we are used to playing each other,” Eshelman said. “We both are going to be physical with each other.”

Gillies said the match offered an opportunity to see what each team has.

“This was a good look for us,” Gillies said.

“I’m psyched we played as well as we did because we are a new team,” said Klawiter, the daughter of Mary and Reiner Klawiter.

The Skiers will return to match action at 11 a.m. Saturday at Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale.

The Basalt girls will play at Roaring Fork on Tuesday afternoon.

“It’ll be fun to play them again in a couple of weeks,” Eshelman said, with a smile.