Basalt spoils Saints’ opener, 5-0, in Edwards
EDWARDS, Colorado ” Vail Christian girls soccer was playing its ninth varsity soccer game in school history Tuesday. The Saints’ opponent, Basalt, has won 10-consecutive Western Slope crowns and can take a large step toward No. 11 by beating Aspen Thursday.
With that background, the result was predictable. The Longhorns, behind a hat trick from freshman Annette Stenstadvold, blanked the Saints, 5-0, at Freedom Park in Edwards.
For Basalt, now 10-1, the challenge was not taking a team that the Longhorns had beaten, 10-0, Thursday, lightly.
“We always try to come in each game like we’ve never played the opponent before,” said Stenstadvold, better known to her teammates as Nettie. “We just try to play our level. We don’t think about our previous game. We just have to step it up.”
For the Saints, it was their home opener ” after three previous attempts were snowed out ” and a chance to see how they stack up against the league’s unquestioned standard bearer.
“It’s just hard having our first home game being against a team that beat us, 10-0,” the Saints’ Laura Orduno said. “Just really being able to cut that halfway down, it makes us feel, ‘Wow, we did better.’ Aspen played them and lost, 6-0. So we’re improving.”
For Basalt, the 3A Slope is its fiefdom, and the Longhorns showed why Tuesday. Stenstadvold broke through the Saints defense in the eighth minute and gave the Longhorns a 1-0 lead.
Vail Christian’s main strategy was to prevent the Longhorns attackers from turning upfield, and at times, were successful.
“They’re good with the first touch on the ball,” Saints coach Barbara Wilson said. “So it’s trying to get the girls to realize that if you can get them not to turn, not have that pass and not have that shot, then you can shut them down. And if you’re on your man defensively and not letting them turn, she’s getting frustrated. The goal is to frustrate them.”
Despite excellent defense play from the likes of Allie Parker and Laura Orduno ” the latter’s performance should be no surprise to anyone who’s watched Battle Mountain play in the fall ” Basalt still got its opportunities and converted.
Hayley Guglielmo broke through in the 31st and Stenstadvold got her second in the waning minutes of the first half.
Basalt’s Alia Munger had the goal of the day in the second half. The senior midfielder took a free kick from the left side and bent it beautifully inside the far post to make it 4-0.
Stenstadvold completed the hat trick in the 79th.
“I got some nice passes and I just finished,” she said.
Basalt hosts Aspen Thursday at 4 p.m. and can all but wrap up title No. 11 with a win. With a victory, the Longhorns, ranked No. 6 in the state, can assure themselves of a home game in the first round of the playoffs in May.
“With the Skiers, we’ve always got to get to the 50-50 balls,” Stenstadvold said. “It’s a physical game. They’re definitely a good team. We just have to play possession and keep our communication.”
“It’s good to have expectations,” Basalt coach Chris Woods said of a potential 11th title. “You always want to set the bar high. If you don’t set the bar high, why do you come out? We’re here to have fun, but we’re here to win. We do a lot of both.”
For those who are curious, Steamboat Springs, yes, as a 3A school in 1998, was the last team other than Basalt to win the league.
As far as the opponent and the result, this was not the way the Saints wanted to have their first home game go. A school usually tries to schedule a team like Northeastern Southwestern Mediocre State for such an occasion, but spring weather did not allow.
That having been said, playing the Basalts and the Aspens of the world is good experience for Vail Christian, which is playing as an independent in its first varsity season. Despite having a student body of just north of 100, the Saints will be playing in the 3A Slope next year. Basalt, Aspen and the like will be league games next year. Colorado soccer doesn’t have a 2A classification, in which Saints teams normally compete.
“I think it’s great for the girls to see what the competition is,” Wilson said. “I think now they’ll believe me that we held Basalt (to 2-0 Thursday) in the first half that they can do it. You can strive to do that. We just really need to work on our confidence, our confidence with the ball, playing these teams. I think the girls need to get into the mentality that we are a varsity team, that we are playing these teams. This is what it’s going to be like.”
Outside of Basalt and Aspen, the Saints have been holding their own against other Western Slope teams like Olathe and Grand Valley. With a record of 4-5 with three games to play, the Saints have not played like first-year varsity fodder for other teams.
And likely the most exciting game of the year for the Saints is today when Vail Christian heads to Vail Mountain at 4 p.m. for the Go Vail Blue Rivalry.
The young ladies from both schools have fierce battles in volleyball in the fall and so today’s match will feature a lot of familiar faces.
“We’re excited. We always like going to VMS,” said Parker who has a little experience with the Gore Rangers as an outside hitter. “It’s fun because VMS has really great athletes and they’re great competition for our school, about the same size. We don’t feel like we’re out of our league. It’s good competition.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.
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