That’s all, folks: Rams walk off pitch in Aspen
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN ” Skiers assistant coach John Gillies didn’t want to lose sight of his team’s fast start against visiting Roaring Fork on Tuesday night.
That was difficult given the match’s abrupt ending, which left one sideline fuming and another perplexed.
With his team trailing by three goals in the 50th minute, Rams coach John Ackerman pulled his team off the turf. The move ostensibly was the result of a no call during an exchange in which a Roaring Fork player and Aspen goalkeeper Alex Owen collided while chasing down a loose ball.
“I guess they thought they weren’t getting a fair game,” referee Dario Del Piccolo said.
Ackermam declined to comment.
Skiers players and coaches struggled to make sense of the situation as they lingered on the field.
“The two collided and their player came off worse, but I really didn’t see anything that was a problem,” Gillies said. “I wasn’t moaning at the refs, so you know they must’ve been doing a good job.”
“Other teams always think we’re playing too rough,” Kyle Lusk said. “It really surprised me. I’ve never seen anything like that. I didn’t even know what was going on.”
Aspen (4-2-1 overall, 4-1-1 3A Region 7) was hardly oblivious during a first half in which it went on the attack from the first whistle. The Skiers pushed the ball deep in Roaring Fork’s end, pressured Rams keeper Luis Medina and scored twice in the game’s first 10 minutes.
Senior forward Jesus Meza struck first when, 20 seconds into the match, he tracked down a pass from Milo Stark up the left side, then tapped the ball past a charging Medina.
Less than 10 minutes later, Aspen forward Murphy Fyrwald and Lusk managed to shake free behind the Roaring Fork defense. Fyrwald, positioned a few feet from the right post, fielded a cross from midfield, then alertly passed off to Lusk, who gathered and fired a sharp grounder into the bottom right corner.
The duo hooked up on a similar play in the waning minutes of the half, but Lusk’s apparent goal was negated by a delayed offsides call.
“We knew Roaring Fork had tied and beat some teams recently, and we came out ready to play,” Lusk said. “We’ve really been working on our shooting and passing, and it paid off.”
While Aspen’s back line smothered every Rams run, the Skiers continued to surround Medina. Moments after being inserted into the lineup, Aspen’s Kevin Frazier blocked Medina’s attempted clear, collected the ball as it bounced left then scored to stretch the lead to three in the 17th minute.
“We kept wearing them down,” Gillies said. “And when one of their men beat us, we always had it covered.”
The Skiers scored three goals in the first half Saturday against Coal Ridge, but a second-half lull nearly cost them in a one-goal victory. That trend continued early in the second 40 minutes Tuesday as Roaring Fork controlled the midfield at the outset and Aspen seemed content to sit on its lead.
They only had to sit for 10 minutes, though, as an unusual set of circumstances led to the shortening of the game.
While they couldn’t explain what transpired, the Skiers will take it. They host Vail Mountain School at 11 a.m. on Saturday, then have a rematch with the Longhorns on Tuesday.
“[After the Basalt game] the guys needed to learn some pride and feel some passion. I think they did that,” Gillies said. “You never do forget about Basalt. It hurts, and I still wake up screaming. I only wish these kids would, too.”
“We’re just going game by game,” Lusk added. “This is a good statement. It shows we’re back, and we haven’t given up.”
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This decision is part of a game plan to focus on giant slalom and slalom in the early part of season. Shiffrin will likely also pass on a speed stop in Val d’Isere from Dec. 18-20.