Sluggish Basalt blanks Grand Valley in soccer |

Sluggish Basalt blanks Grand Valley in soccer

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

Basalt players braced themselves as they jogged off the field at halftime Thursday.

The scolding was coming.

“Hi, I’m your soccer coach. Who are you?” Longhorns head coach Makenzie Eshelman sarcastically asked her squad.

Basalt looked little like the team that pasted rival Roaring Fork on Tuesday. Save for two impressive individual efforts in the opening 40 minutes, then a 90-second stretch in which they scored twice in the second half, the Longhorns were uncharacteristically sluggish Thursday. While it was likely caught looking ahead to Saturday’s 3A Region 4 showdown with Coal Ridge, Basalt managed to hang on for a 4-0 win, improving to 7-0-3.

“We didn’t have any intensity at all, and that’s not acceptable,” Eshelman said. “I have high expectations. … Let’s hope they got it out of their system.”

The Longhorns were slow to loose balls and struggled to link passes during the first 10-plus minutes Thursday against the Cardinals (1-9-1), who were blanked 8-0 in the teams’ previous meeting March 23. Eshelman could do little more than cross her arms as she paced the sideline.

Ginevra Moore calmed her coach’s nerves in the 14th minute, sidestepping a defender and launching a low liner into the net to break the early deadlock.

Five minutes later, Basalt flooded the Grand Valley zone on a corner kick and fired multiple shots on goal before the ball was cleared. Longhorns senior Abby King chased it down and, after no Cardinals closed to challenge her, lofted a shot from about 20 yards out that sailed just inside the near post, stretching the lead to two.

Basalt generated little else in the opening half.

“We expected to keep them down a lot more [than last game]. … We worked a lot harder on defense,” Grand Valley head coach Kelly Clark said. “Overall, we’ve come a long way since the first game. Ultimately, that’s what is important.”

Had Longhorns goalkeeper Jamie Matherly not sprinted out of net to thwart a breakaway in the waning minutes, the lead would have been even smaller at halftime. Eshelman let her players hear it, chiding them for their lack of possession, communication and intensity.

“They were just off today,” the coach admitted. “There were spurts [of solid play] … but that was about it.”

The lackluster play continued in a second half in which Eshelman routinely went to the bench and shuffled the lineup in an attempt to find a spark.

Starters Moore and Katie King provided two with about 10 minutes remaining. King sprinted up the left sideline, then passed off to Moore for the easy tap-in goal. Ninety seconds later, King outran a defender, then stretched out her left foot and flicked a teammate’s cross into the net as she fell to the grass.

Eshelman remained stoic on the sideline. She knows her team will need a much better effort if they are to top the visiting Titans at 11 a.m. Saturday.

The two squads battled to a scoreless draw in Peach Valley on March 18. Coal Ridge (5-0-1) has yet to allow a goal this season.

“We’ll get obliterated [if we play like this Saturday]. They’ll crush us,” she said.

“That’s not an option.”

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