Abarca header leads Roaring Fork to overtime triumph over Aspen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE, Colorado – Roaring Fork came up golden against Aspen. Again.
With little more than 10 seconds remaining in the first overtime in Tuesday’s soccer game, the Rams’ Wylie Adams hastily set up for a free kick from about 30 yards out and lofted a cross into the box. Teammate Pedro Abarca, situated near the far post, headed the ball past the outstretched gloves of Skiers goalkeeper Jesis Andrade to clinch a 2-1 win.
“It feels kind of good,” Abarca said afterward. “I was trying all season to score … Wylie sent me a nice pass, and I was ready to head it.”
Both of the Rams’ two wins over Aspen have come in extra time. Midfielder Neiby Vargas scored with little more than a minute remaining in regulation to square Sept. 10’s game at two, then he found the net four minutes into the first overtime.
“That’s tough,” said exasperated Skiers coach Junior Sutherland, whose team has played four overtime games this season (0-2-2). “We battled hard. I don’t really know what to say. We didn’t get any luck or any breaks.”
Aspen (2-6-2 overall, 1-4-2 in the 3A Western Slope League), playing without star midfielder Will Bloemsma, who was relegated to the bench after receiving a red card in Saturday’s loss to Coal Ridge, struck first Tuesday.
Freshman Kyler Sciarrone shook free from his defender on a run up the left side in the 23rd minute, controlled a pass and tucked the ball into the top-right corner with a left-footed strike.
The Skiers’ defense was tested often during the first 40 minutes. A Rams forward hit the post in the fifth minute, then another player came within one foot of one-timing a corner kick past Andrade. Their slim lead held up, however.
For the time being.
“It seemed like it was only a matter of time [before we scored],” Roaring Fork head coach John Ackerman said. “We came out much stronger in the second half. … the team dynamic was much better. After [Aspen’s] goal, it was sort of like our button was pushed.”
The Rams (5-1-0 overall, 5-1-1 in league) went on the attack right from the start of the second half, producing the tying score in the 43rd minute. Saulito Vega controlled the ball after a failed Aspen clear, knifed through a host of defenders and fired a shot from in front of the net that rolled past Andrade.
Vega bid for the game winner in the 60th minute. He sprinted up the left side to track down a loose ball; Andrade left the net to try and thwart the run and was caught out of position. Vega’s shot hit the left post.
Roaring Fork, which controlled the tempo throughout the second half against a visibly gassed Skiers side, hit the crossbar or the posts no less than four times in the final 40 minutes of regulation.
“In the second half we held up against everything they threw at us,” Sutherland said. “In overtime, we went for the win and they went for the win. They got the fortunate call.
“It’s always been the case this season that we lose a goal right before the half or right at the end of the game and it costs us.”
The Aspen defense, which flirted with disaster often during the second half, looked as if it would force a second overtime. Things changed drastically, however, after a Skiers players was whistled for a push in the back with about 20 seconds remaining.
Adams quickly positioned the ball for the cross as teammates flooded the box. Abarca picked the ideal time to produce his first goal of the season.
After his header slipped past Andrade, Abarca pulled off his jersey, sprinted toward the home sideline and slid across the grass on his knees before being mobbed by teammates.
“It was another one of those heart-wrenchers,” Ackerman said with a grin. “I’m just really appreciative of the fact that our sweeper was confident enough to push on up there with the rest of them on the free kick. It was total abandonment [of defense], but that’s OK with eight to 10 seconds left.
“We played with heart. A lot of heart.”
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