Roaring Fork, Aspen brave the cold, tie, 1-1
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
ASPEN, Colorado – So close.
The Aspen soccer team knows that feeling well after playing a slew of tight games this fall. Such was the case yet again on a frigid Tuesday evening against visiting Roaring Fork.
The Skiers, who have scored just eight goals in their last 10 games, took a 1-0 lead following a penalty kick with eight minutes remaining. The Rams answered back in the waning moments of regulation, when Paulino Abarca headed home the equalizer, pushing Aspen into its fifth overtime this season.
For the fourth time, the Skiers (4-4-4) had to settle for a draw.
“We’ve got to put the ball in the back of the net. It’ll come,” Aspen head coach Junior Sutherland said. “Last year, we were losing these games a lot of the time. This is better than losing at least.”
The two squads seemed destined for extra time during the first 70-plus minutes, which were dominated by fast-paced play that produced a handful of scoring chances but no scores.
Aspen’s fortunes changed with nine minutes to play, however, when senior Erick Perez appeared to be tackled from behind in the box and a penalty kick was awarded.
Teammate McCall Kauss lined up the ball, then booted a strong line drive that hit the net, sending the home sideline into a frenzy.
“From my vantage point, it definitely seemed like a soft penalty,” Roaring Fork head coach John Ackerman said.
“I was relieved to see [Abarca] come in and head one in.”
The Skiers’ celebration was short-lived. During a scramble in the box in the final moments of the second half, Aspen goalkeeper Jessis Andrade appeared to corral a loose ball with both gloves, but it was somehow jarred loose; Abarca was perfectly positioned to head the deflection into the net.
Andrade, who thought he was fouled, angrily slammed the ball onto the turf.
He was one of two Skiers players to draw yellow cards on the play.
“I thought there was a little infringement, but it’s hard to see from 60 yards away,” Sutherland admitted. “We definitely deserved the lead, but to give up a goal like that with [about] 60 seconds left is not good.”
Two five-minute overtime periods produced few scoring chances for either side.
“There are definitely mixed feelings. … At least we equalized it,” said Ackerman, whose team is now 7-4-1. “We’re still third in [3A Region 3]. We came is saying this match was a must win or draw for us. In that respect, we succeeded. We came away with the bare minimum.”
Aspen will look to rebound Thursday, when it steps out of conference to host Palisade (4:30 p.m.) in its second of three games in four days.; it visits Vail Mountain School on Friday. Roaring Fork will host Hotchkiss on Saturday.
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