Soccer: Roaring Fork girls blank Basalt
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BASALT – After a tense second-half exchange in which her teammates fired no less than five successive point-blank shots on goal but failed to find the net, an exasperated Basalt soccer player sighed loudly, dropped to the ground and covered her head in her hands.
“Now you know how I feel,” Longhorns head coach Makenzie Eshelman quipped.
That sentiment intensified down the stretch Tuesday afternoon. Visiting Roaring Fork struck for two goals in five minutes late in the final quarter to pull off a 2-0 stunner against suddenly punchless Basalt.
The Longhorns (1-2) now have gone 150 minutes without a score in their past two matches – surprising losses to valley rivals Aspen and the Rams.
“We had a different set of objectives today. We wanted to play as a team, pass to feet and have intensity, and I think we achieved all those things,” Eshelman said. “That second half was the best half of soccer we’ve had all year. The score just wasn’t in our favor. They got lucky today.”
Roaring Fork certainly will take it. By most accounts, the Rams have not toppled Basalt in more than a decade.
“This is huge for us – you can see the excitement in the girls’ faces,” first-year Roaring Fork head coach Heather Fox said. “We’re definitely on the right track.”
Buoyed by their first win of the season Thursday against Grand Valley, the Rams controlled possession for most of the opening half Tuesday. Both squads generated few open looks, however, and no goals.
A seemingly re-energized Longhorns squad stormed out of halftime and looked to push the pace. Roaring Fork was reduced to packing the box for extended stretches.
“We hadn’t been creating chances in our other two games – we were very defensive-minded,” Eshelman said. “We turned it on today. We just didn’t put it into the back of the net.”
Added Fox, “Our defense was much more organized today than when we played them a week and a half ago and they beat us by two goals. They controlled the second half, but we hung in there long enough to turn the tide and get it done.”
Roaring Fork repeatedly stood tall against intense Basalt offensive pressure, and then pulled ahead for good in the 72nd minute. After a teammate fired a shot that slipped off of Longhorns goalkeeper Emmalee Erickson’s gloves, Natalie Olivas alertly tracked down the ball near the goal line and knocked it into the net.
Soon after, Taylor Adams all but put this one out of reach when she dribbled up the left side of the pitch, gained some separation and ripped a line drive into the top corner.
“We had a lot of work to do between that last game and today. The girls have worked hard in every single practice,” Fox said. “We took what we’ve been working on and applied it today. I’m certainly pleased with that.”
Basalt will look to regroup at 4 p.m. Thursday, when it hosts Grand Valley.
“I told the girls just now that the season isn’t the first two or three games. It’s a long season, 15 games plus the playoffs,” Eshelman said. “If we lose at the beginning and continue to get better and peak by the playoffs, we’ll be fine.”
A week after losing its home opener, the Gentlemen of Aspen Rugby Club made sure to remind its upcoming Mountain League opponents that it’ll still be a difficult test after a 52-31 win on Saturday over the Denver Barbarians.
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