Vail Christian falls to Basalt
Vail, CO Colorado
ASPEN, Colorado ” As she stood at midfield waiting to sub into Friday’s soccer game, Vail Christian’s Karen Rascon turned to a Basalt player standing beside her.
“You guys are really good,” Rascon said, grinning.
It was the Longhorns who did most of the smiling on this day. They shook off a sluggish start in their first true home game and, spurred on by an impassioned halftime speech from head coach Chris Woods, exploded for eight goals in the second en route to a 10-0 rout of the Saints.
Four players scored two or more goals for Basalt (7-1 overall, 5-0 3A Western Slope), which extended its season-best win streak to six games. The Longhorns have outscored opponents, 24-0, in their previous three games. The end result was pleasing, but Woods was unsettled by his team’s performance in the first 40 minutes. He let his squad know as much during the intermission.
“The PG version is that I told them to take their heads out of their butts and play like the Basalt Longhorns,” Woods said. “I gave a speech I don’t like giving.”
It worked. Basalt scored four times in the first seven minutes of the second half, stretching its lead to 6-0. Annette Stenstadvold shook free at the top of the box and fired a strong shot over the head and outstretched gloves of Vail Christian keeper Dakota Francis.
Forward Melissa Stewart then struck with two goals in two minutes, showcasing some adept footwork to elude a host of defenders to score first from in front, then with a sweeping shot from the left side that slipped into the right corner. Stenstadvold then caught Kat Fitzpatrick in stride with a well-timed pass up the left side in the 47th minute; Fitzpatrick ran right by two defenders and scored as the Longhorns seized control.
“Maybe we came in a little too cocky,” Stenstadvold said of the first half. “We finally opened our eyes to how bad we were playing,” Fitzpatrick added.
The Saints looked like anything but a first-year varsity program in the first half, dictating play against the 10-time defending Slope champions. Basalt, which struggled to penetrate the tightly-packed Vail Christian defense or string passes together, often settled for shots outside the box.
The Longhorns finally produced a rare scoring chance in the 19th minute, and Stewart capitalized. The junior lofted a corner kick into the box, and the ball deflected off a Saints defender and into the net. Nearly every Basalt player in Vail Christian’s half of the field touched the ball during one stretch three minutes before the half. Hailey Guglielmo wound up possession on the right side, dribbled wide, then passed off to a streaking Jackie Argueta for the easy score.
Still, Woods called out his players during halftime.
“He pointed out the stuff we were doing wrong and said we weren’t playing our game,” Fitzpatrick said. “It was definitely a wake-up call. We can’t play like that (today against Coal Ridge) at all.”
After the initial onslaught to open the second, Longhorns pressure produced four more goals down the stretch. Stenstadvold scored on a penalty kick after being tackled from behind in the 58th minute. Fitzpatrick, who had moved back to defense, drove nearly the length of the entire field in the 65th minute, shedding defenders and scoring from left of the net.
Freshman Jamie Matherly provided the finishing touches, connecting twice in the final 11 minutes.
“Things fell into place,” Stenstadvold said. “As long as we keep our communication up and play our game, we’ll do well.”
The next test comes today in a conference clash with the Titans, whom Basalt blanked, 5-0, on Monday. Game time is 11 a.m. Vail Christian plays at Grand Valley today at 11 a.m.
Jon Maletz can be reached at email@example.com
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