Basalt leaves no doubt, toppling VMS
Meaningless? Nothing to play for? Not exactly.For Basalt’s girls soccer team, every game matters – even when the league standings indicate otherwise. That was the message the Longhorns delivered Tuesday afternoon with a 6-1 thumping of visiting Vail Mountain School in the regular-season finale for both teams.Junior Kat Fitzpatrick had three goals to give her a league-leading 22, and Nicole Booth, Melissa Stewart and Alyssa Leslie all scored for Basalt (14-1, 12-0), which locked up a 10th straight 3A Western Slope title and the accompanying top playoff seed last week.Not wanting to spoil an undefeated league record, or give the state seeding committee any reason to slight them Sunday, the Longhorns played with purpose for the full 80 minutes.”We’re ranked No. 2 in state, and if we lost this one we would have fell quite a bit,” Basalt coach Chris Woods said. “Hopefully the seeding committee looks at [rockypreps.com], and honors that and keeps us at No. 2. It’s Senior Say today, and the girls played with a lot of pride. … They really got down to business. It’s a really good way to finish the season.”
It was a very frustrating way for the Gore Rangers to end a frustrating season. Just two weeks earlier, they gave the Longhorns all they could handle on their home pitch before Fitzpatrick punched in a last-minute goal for a 1-0 win. Tuesday, a goal from Molly Etters in the 79th minute was the Gore Rangers’ lone bright spot of a long afternoon. The low point came in the 67th minute when VMS’ Kris Caples twice mouthed off to a referee and received a red card.”I think she was just being recalcitrant,” VMS coach Bob Bandoni said. “It was nothing more than that. I’m not out there, but that’s gotta be his call, and I think he’s pretty fair.”VMS had two early chances to score with two well-placed corner kicks before Basalt got its offense rolling.In the 16th minute, Fitzpatrick received a pass in the box from Stewart – who was tying up two defenders – and unloaded to break the scoreless tie.
Basalt goalie Dayne Toney snatched a header from the Gore Rangers’ Elsie Macsata in the 25th minute to negate what would have been a tying goal.Basalt had numerous scoring chances in the final 10 minutes of the half, including a frantic sequence in the box where Fitzpatrick outran two defenders and skipped though a slide tackle from goalie Della Elich, only to shoot wide on an empty net. Booth scored only a minute later when she corralled a loose ball in the box and blasted a shot that deflected off the Elich’s hands and into the back of the net.”I saw it come right off the defender’s foot and it was pushed right in front of me,” Booth said. “I shot it off the outside of my foot, but it worked.”In the 53rd minute, Stewart knocked in a loose ball during the middle of a scrum in the VMS box – the first of four goals in 10 minutes. A minute later, Fitzpatrick caught up to a through ball from Stewart and outran two VMS defenders to cross up Elich for her second goal.”We’ve played together for a lot of years, so we kind of know what each other does,” Stewart said of her synergy with Fitzpatrick.
“Melissa is the best sophomore in the league, and she’s really fun to play with,” Fitzpatrick said.Fitzpatrick scored her third off a penalty kick in the 60th minute after a foul in the box. Leslie then made it 6-0 on an unreachable blast from 35 yards out that sailed into the top right corner of the net.”I thought they gave us more trouble this time up front,” Bandoni said. “I thought we had a lot of breakdowns. We gave up a lot of soft goals. There were just breakdowns in the back. At the same time, they really put pressure on our backs – a lot of speed, and good individual play by their strikers. I thought also their outside midfielders got in and gave dangerous services to their strikers. We were having a hard time adjusting to that weak side.”Nate Peterson’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org