Vail outlasts Aspen girls |

Vail outlasts Aspen girls

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” Kelli Lindsey was not about to let the opportunity go to waste.

Rather than idle near midfield during an attempted Aspen clear in the 59th minute of Thursday’s game, the Vail Mountain School soccer player decided to pounce. Lindsey chased down the loose ball, colliding with a Skiers defender in the process. As the ball squirted further into Aspen’s end, she took advantage of some rare open space to fire a shot on goal.

Aspen goalkeeper Lindsey Anderson lunged off the turf with both hands outstretched but could do little more than graze the ball as it sailed into the net, breaking a 1-1 deadlock in the 59th minute.

Lindsey’s strike proved to be the difference as the Skiers squandered multiple scoring chances down the stretch and fell, 2-1.

“That was tense,” VMS head coach Bob Bandoni said. “I think we had to have some grit to get through that game with a win.”

And some resilience. The Skiers struck first during a hotly contested, physical first half ” one reminiscent of March 19’s game, when the two teams played to a scoreless draw.

Aspen’s constant pressure produced an odd-man rush up the middle in the 23rd minute. Hayley Rinaldi sidestepped a defender and was winding up for a shot from inside the box when a Gore Rangers defender thwarted the attempt with a well-timed slide tackle. The ball trickled right to Skiers forward Brittany Marrs, who absorbed contact and fired a grounder into the far corner.

The Gore Rangers tied the game five minutes before halftime. Forward Kelsey Samuels shook free on a run up the left sideline and, as Anderson charged out of the net, lined a shot past the diving keeper and just inside the far post.

VMS bid for the go-ahead score less than two minutes later, but a shot from point-blank range sailed mere inches past the post and out of play.

Aspen experienced some near-misses, too. The Skiers failed to convert three corner kicks in the final 90 seconds of the first half.

“What can you say? If you don’t put the ball in the back of the net and take advantage of your opportunities, you’re not going to win,” Aspen head coach John Gillies said. “I think we were the better team. I think we were the better team against Basalt.”

Offensive deficiencies cost the Skiers in Tuesday’s game against the Longhorns. Despite outshooting its downvalley rival by a margin of nearly two-to-one, Aspen (7-2-1) was shut out and handed its first loss of the season.

The struggles continued Thursday for the Skiers, who scored 50 times in eight games heading into this week. Forward Ruthie Prikyl passed to wide-open teammate Olivia Davis in the 41st minute, but the two watched in frustration as the ball hit a snow bank instead of nylon.

Rinaldi took on a Gore Rangers defender and on-rushing keeper Lily Grisafi shortly after, but her shot sailed wide to the left.

“Our goalie came up big,” Bandoni said. “She played intelligently. Her angles were intelligent and her distributions were correct.

“Aspen is tough and it was important for us to put pressure on the ball right away and reduce all those through balls. They really know how to find the passing lanes.”

But not the net.

While the Skiers struggled, Lindsey seized her chance to give VMS the lead ” and a seventh win in nine games this season.

“The team really helped me a lot ” the midfield played great today,” she said. “Before the game, we practiced going one-on-one with the goalie and the last defender a lot. It was good timing.

“We came in determined and wanted to dominate. Especially after the draw last time, we wanted to come out and give it our all. … We wanted it more.”

Gillies did not refute that sentiment.

“It comes down to desire,” Gillies said. “The girls think they can step across the field and win without putting the work in sometimes. … We’ve got to get better. At least we know we haven’t peaked yet.”

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