Stout defense lifts Aspen girls over Telluride |

Stout defense lifts Aspen girls over Telluride

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

TELLURIDE, Colo. – Aspen head coach John Gillies thinks his defense does not get the credit it deserves. That will change with another effort like Wednesday’s in Telluride.

The Skiers held the 14th-seeded Miners, who came in averaging nearly four goals a game, out of the box and off the scoreboard during Wednesday’s 3A state-tournament opener. Haley Rinaldi’s goal midway through the first half proved to be all No. 19 Aspen needed to secure its second first-round upset is as many seasons.

The Skiers (11-2-2) will travel to Colorado Springs on Saturday to take on defending state champion St. Mary’s. The third-seeded Pirates dispatched No. 30 Ridgway, 6-0, in other action Wednesday.

“They were a big, strong team that passed the ball well – they reminded me pretty much of Coal Ridge – but they couldn’t really penetrate,” Aspen head coach John Gillies said. “I can’t remember a single shot they had. … I don’t think they knew how to get around our defense.”

The Skiers could muster little on offense, either, during a seesaw game played primarily at midfield, Gillies said.

“It was difficult getting off the bus after five hours. … Obviously there were lapses of concentration,” Gillies said. “We weren’t looking as though we’d cause them much trouble, either, inside the box.”

Outside the box was a different story. Rinaldi lined up a kick from about 35 yards out in the 20th minute, then booted the ball over a wall of Telluride defenders and into the top-right corner of the net.

“It reminded me of [Real Madrid’s] Cristiano Rinaldo,” Gillies said, “or a young me.”

The Miners (9-5) had few chances to square the game in the second half. Skiers goalkeeper Lindsey Anderson sprinted out of net to thwart one late opportunity, and the contested shot sailed way past the post.

Aspen upset No. 9 Middle Park as the 24th seed in 2009 – its first playoff appearance since 2006.

The Skiers then lost to No. 8 Colorado Academy, 3-0, in the Round of 16. The task before them Saturday will be similarly daunting.

There is some added motivation, however: With a win, Aspen could face fellow 3A Region 4 squad Coal Ridge in the quarterfinals. The No. 6 Titans, who pounded Bennett on Tuesday, face No. 11 Discovery Canyon in other action Saturday.

“I mentioned that to the girls today. … Maybe that’s enough of an incentive,” Gillies said. “They’re quite ready to come up against Coal Ridge again. We owe them one.”


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