Aspen downs Vail Mountain to finish regular season
ASPEN – Who has the best girls’ soccer team in the 3A Western Slope?Unfortunately, Basalt and Aspen aren’t allowed to answer that question on the field. Both Highway 82 teams wrapped up the regular season Tuesday with identical 11-1 league records, which left the Slope crown to be decided by tiebreaker rules.Because the Longhorns hammered the Skiers, 8-0, in the first meeting, while Aspen won the second, 3-1, Basalt earns the top playoff seed. Aspen settles for second on paper, but on the field, isn’t quick to forget that it was second to no one in the final game against the Longhorns.The argument ends there.
Vail Mountain School, the third-best team in the 3A Slope, knows that much after a 4-0 loss to Aspen on the Skiers’ home field Tuesday. The win was Aspen’s eighth shutout of the season, and followed a previous 2-0 win over the Gore Rangers on March 21.The game was closer than the score indicated. Aspen outshot the Gore Rangers by a margin of 2-1, but only led 2-0 after the first half because of the stellar play of VMS goalie Cely Brinkmann.The Gore Rangers also had a couple of excellent scoring opportunities – including one that looked to be a sure thing – yet failed to net one ball.”I thought it was a really well-fought match,” VMS coach Bob Bandoni said. “The score isn’t representative of how I thought we played. We didn’t have much luck. We had a couple of chances and we just couldn’t do it.”Aspen (12-1, 11-1) took the lead in the 13th minute when sophomore Maggie Melberg chased down a loose ball in the box and was able to kick it before Brinkmann slid in for a save. The goal was a sign of things to come.
In the 25th minute, Aspen senior Kaitlin Roos made a run down the right side into the box and Brinkmann, spying an opportunity to swoop in for a save, again charged. Roos managed to slip the ball past Brinkmann, however, and after a slight collision, remained on her feet to tap the ball into the back of the net.”I’m pleased with the way they ran at us,” Aspen coach Jon Gillies said. “I’m happy with the way we handled the pressure. At times, we reverted to panicking, and we looked tired at times, but we didn’t concede. We’ve allowed only one goal at home this year, which is fantastic.”While Brinkmann saw more shots on goal, Aspen goalie Carly Magill was just as impressive. The senior went after loose balls with both her hands and her feet, and didn’t shy away from contact when a VMS forward made a run on goal.Magill also had luck on her side. In the third minute of the second half, Vail’s Molly Etters managed to stay on her feet after she and Magill went up for a 50/50 ball, which Etters tapped past Magill. Aspen senior Elyse Boelens streaked in front of the empty net, however, to clear the ball before another VMS player could touch it.Magill showed her versatility later in the half when she made the switch to forward and served up an assist to Emily Hassall for Aspen’s third goal in the 68th minute. Magill raced a VMS defender down the right sideline, then hit a perfect cross to Hassall who one-timed the shot.
In the 71st minute, Aspen senior Kelly Mitchell netted her second goal of the season with another shot that skimmed past Brinkmann, who was again charging.”I was just in the right place at the right time,” Mitchell said. “We’ve been working on our crosses in practice, just trying to center ourselves in the box, then concentrate when we have the ball and get it in there.””Because we didn’t have much luck in the first half, we took some chances in the second,” Bandoni said. “I thought we were really developing a rhythm, and our strikers were playing better, but we gambled and we paid for it.”Aspen hosts sixth-seeded Colorado Springs Christian at 4 p.m. on Friday. VMS (7-5-1, 7-4-1) also opens the postseason at home when it faces Colorado Academy Friday at 4:30 p.m.Vail, Colorado
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