Basalt gets helping hands from VMS |

Basalt gets helping hands from VMS

Mark Fox/The Aspen Times

BASALT – Basalt’s girls’ soccer team hasn’t had any trouble scoring goals this season. Visiting Vail Mountain School made sure that trend continued Wednesday by handing the third-ranked Longhorns two free goals off free kicks in a 6-0 Basalt win.The 3A Western Slope leading Longhorns (8-0-1 overall, 6-0 in league) jumped out to a 4-0 lead at the half, then took advantage of two VMS hand-ball penalties in the second half to add the final two scores. “It’s a shame to make those kinds of mistakes, but you understand that nobody’s doing it on purpose,” said VMS coach Bob Bandoni. “They put so much pressure on us, that it’s understandable that those mistakes are going to be forced.”It could have been worse for the Gore Rangers, if not for the aggressive play of goalie Cely Brinkmann, who finished with more than 20 saves. Hats off for Graf

In the first half, Basalt’s Bailey Holmes had a point-blank header on an empty net, but the ball hit the crossbar, then bounced to the ground before a VMS defender cleared. Basalt’s Maddie Hoffman also nailed the crossbar on a penalty kick after the first of three VMS hand-ball violations in the second half. On the second two free kicks, Brinkmann wouldn’t be so fortunate. Basalt midfielder Jessi Graf converted both – lofting a shot over a wall of VMS defenders and Brinkmann’s head on a direct kick, then drilling an uncontested penalty kick past Brinkmann in the 67th minute for the final score. Graf also scored at the end of the first half off an assist from Brittany Guglielmo to finish with a hat trick. After the game, Bandoni had nothing but praise for his keeper’s never-say-die effort.”She’s so strong,” Bandoni said. “She anchors us. We actually build around her, because she gives us so much. She’s so good that we can allow ourselves a larger margin of error. She lets us play a little higher and a little tighter, because she can handle more of the field than most high school goalies.”While Brinkmann found herself in the line of fire for 80 minutes, Longhorns’ goalie Dayne Toney spent another afternoon stretching her legs and working on her suntan. Toney was credited with one save and touched the ball a total of five times.

Horns hotBasalt coach Chris Woods explained after the game how he keeps his players hustling, even when his team up by five goals or more. Since a 1-1 tie with Denver Christian on April 8, the Longhorns have scored 33 goals in their last five games while allowing just one goal.”You promise them a hard practice the next day if they let up,” Woods said of his coaching philosophy. “I want them to play hard regardless of the score.””With these kinds of games, it’s a good way to work on things,” Graf added. “There’s always room to improve on things. Sometimes we get a little too ahead of ourselves and that’s when you get sloppy. We re-focused at halftime and came out and played hard.”Holmes scored the first goal – and what was eventually the game winner – in the second minute of action. Junior teammate Katie Staerkel had a good shot on goal after a corner kick, but opted to flick a pass to Holmes who finished the play.Staerkel then scored the next two goals. The first came in the 23rd minute off a rebound; the second in the 32nd minute after Staerkel paused in front of the net to gauge Brinkmann’s location, before blasting a shot into the top left corner of the net.

With the win, the Longhorns can now turn their focus to Saturday’s rematch against rival Aspen at the Skiers’ home field. The Longhorns won the first meeting by a count of 7-0.”It was a good test today,” Woods said. “Vail hustled really well. Pretty much the whole team played defense, and they countered very quickly. … Their goalie played out of her shell and made some great saves.”We’re looking forward to Saturday’s game. We’ll definitely be ready for Aspen.”The Gore Rangers (6-4-1 overall, 6-3-1 in league) next play at Olathe on Saturday at 11 a.m.Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is npeterson@aspentimes.comVail, Colorado

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