Soccer: Upset-minded Aspen topples Middle Park |

Soccer: Upset-minded Aspen topples Middle Park

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi Daily News
ALL | Sky-Hi Daily News

GRANBY, Colo. ” The 3A Western Slope is off and running in the girls state soccer tournament.

Visiting Aspen, making its first postseason appearance since 2006, struck first Tuesday against ninth-seeded Middle Park in Granby. The 24th-ranked Skiers pushed the lead to two in the second half and hung on for a 2-1 upset victory over the Panthers.

Aspen, the lowest seeded of the Slope’s four playoff-bound teams, will square off with No. 8 Colorado Academy in Saturday’s round of 16 in Denver. The Mustangs blanked Frontier Academy, 6-0, in other action Tuesday.

“Middle Park was good. They were fast, had some big, strong girls and three girls that scored a lot of goals,” Skiers head coach John Gillies said. “You could tell why they run through a lot of people. But not us, not when we’ve dealt with that before.”

Aspen faced playoff-bound Coal Ridge and Basalt in the regular season’s final week, and it came away with a tight loss and a draw against the Slope’s top two teams. Those promising results gave the Skiers momentum heading into Tuesday, Gillies said.

“We definitely needed that [test],” he added. “It would’ve been nice to go through the season and win against Basalt and Coal Ridge, but there was something we could learn there.”

The learning experiences paid off. After a Panthers defender was whistled for a hand ball in the box 20 minutes into the first half Tuesday, Olivia Davis converted the ensuing penalty kick.

Senior Ruthie Prikyl stretched the lead to two midway through the second half when she fired a shot from 25 yards out that slipped past Middle Park goalkeeper Emily Abbott.

Goalkeeper Lindsey Anderson and Aspen’s defense made the lead stand up against a Panthers squad that had three players with 16 or more goals and entered Tuesday’s matchup with an unblemished home record.

“Our defense was stingy again … They put us under a lot of pressure. Lindsey had some great saves and came out of the box well,” Gillies said. “They’ve got some really good dribblers, like three [Basalt midfielder] Melissa Stewarts. We kept them out and did well.

“To keep them down to one goal … it was great.”

Hannah Levett scored on a late free kick for the Panthers, who came in averaging more than five goals per game.

The Slope’s other three teams ” Basalt, Coal Ridge and Vail Mountain School ” kick off Wednesday. The 11th-seeded Longhorns host No. 22 Estes Park at 5 p.m.


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