Longhorns gore Gore Rangers, 7-1
The Basalt boys soccer team was sleepwalking Saturday morning in the first minute of action against the visiting Vail Mountain School. Then the alarm went off.An opening push from VMS led to a deflected crossing pass, which then led to Gore Rangers’ striker Oscar Gaspar swooping in to blast a line drive past Longhorns’ keeper Jamie Wirkler.The goal, which gave the Gore Rangers a surprising 1-0 lead, was the first score given up by Wirkler in four games. Basalt snapped out of it after that. Or, more correctly, the Longhorns took the wake-up call to set on their own internal alarms. The setting? Explode.It took 34 minutes before the first direct hit landed into the back of the VMS net – a David Rosales one-timer off an assist from senior midfielder Luke Caudill – but after the equalizer, the Gore Rangers were in trouble. Two minutes later, Longhorns’ star forward Felipe Sanchez caught up to a Rosales’ pass in the box, then flicked a ground ball past VMS keeper Matt Stoval.
Then in the 40th minute, junior midfielder Ryan Zubizaretta rocketed another ball past Stoval off an assist from senior forward Francisco Hernandez.A 3-1 lead at the half wasn’t comfortable for Basalt, which before Friday’s game had outscored its previous three opponents, 20-0.So, the Longhorns (4-1, 3-0) kept up the offensive pressure, adding four more goals in the final 40 minutes to hand the Gore Rangers a 7-1 loss.”We didn’t come out strong at all,” said Basalt junior forward Trevor Brown, who added a goal and two assists in the second half. “We totally underestimated these guys. Well, not totally underestimated, but we need to come out stronger in the beginning of games. We picked it up 30 minutes in, but it took us a while to find our rhythm. It was really surprising to all of us that they scored on us one minute into the game.”The VMS defense did put up a valiant effort in the first half as Basalt uncomfortably played from behind, but speed and depth eventually prevailed as the younger Gore Rangers wore down.”The pace was such in the first half that we assumed we were going to struggle in the second half,” said VMS coach Bob Bandoni. “We tried to take care of that through substitutions, but it’s hard to do in soccer because then you begin compromising the rhythm of the game. We could see that. We could see that our pace and our work rate in the first half was so high. We were not only frustrating the opponents, I thought we were also being very stubborn in the middle of the field.”
Rosales echoed Bandoni’s remarks, admitting he and his teammates were growing frustrated at their inability to convert good scoring chances before his goal went in. Basalt coach Eric Streff said his team, if anything, was too concise as it worked to find it first score.”We just had a hard time starting out,” Streff said. “Our passes were a little too hard, a little too crisp. I think we were forcing it a little. It took a while, but we kind of calmed down toward the end of the first half. When David put the first one in things kind of changed. The mentality of the team kind of changed. We just slowed things down.”Aside from the first shot which went past him, Wirkler faced only three more shots the rest of the game. Bandoni switched goalies at the half, replacing Stoval with Jordy Coffee – but against Basalt’s relentless attack, the ploy didn’t work.Basalt senior Brett Boyle scored his first of two second-half goals in the 53rd minute off the first of Brown’s assists. Brown then scored in the 58th minute. A blast from Zubizaretta ricocheted off a VMS defender and Brown one-timed his shot from about 25 yards out.Boyle’s second goal came in the 71st minute off another assist from Brown. Sanchez closed out the scoring in the 78th minute with a beautiful lofting shot that went over the head of Coffee. “Vail Mountain is always a hard team to play because they’ve been second in the league the last four years,” Streff added. “Since I started coaching, I’ve always known that Bob Bandoni was going to put a classy team on the field. They’re always a hard team to play. We knew they were going to step up and the boys finally did, too.”
The Longhorns, still alone atop the 3A Western Slope standings, next play Thursday at defending 3A state champion, Salida. The ‘Horns beat the Spartans last year in the regular season, only to lose in the state seminfal rematch, 1-0.Nate Peterson can be reached at email@example.com.Vail, Colorado