‘Horns look to extend season for seniors
The Basalt High School soccer team is getting healthy at just the right time – playoff time.
The No. 6-seed Longhorns will see the return of injured junior sweeper Jesse Schoeller today when they open the Class 3A State Playoffs at 4 p.m. on their home field against No. 11 Fountain Valley.
“We’re going to keep up with the same game plan and we finally got one of our starting players from last year back from injury,” Basalt coach Erik Streff said. “We’re a little stronger than we’ve been all year and we’ve just been getting better and better.”
The Longhorns have been pretty good all season. Basalt (11-2-1) shut out six teams this season and outscored its opponents 44-10 en route to the Western Slope League title and a regional-round bye.
Fountain Valley (8-4-2) finished third in the Tri-Peaks League (Colorado Springs) and downed Eagle Valley 2-1 in its regional game to advance to the state tournament. Basalt defeated Eagle Valley, the two teams’ only common opponent, 3-1 in both meetings this season.
The Danes aren’t an exceptionally high-scoring team, with a 2.7 goals per game average, but do have a solid offensive threat in Max Winkler. Winkler has 11 goals and accounts for 30 percent of Fountain Valley’s goals this season.
“I think they play a hard-fought game,” said Streff of Fountain Valley. “I don’t know exactly what style they play. We’ll just kind of have to adjust as the game goes on.”
Sophomore Felipe Sanchez leads the Basalt offense with 16 goals and four assists on the season, and junior midfielder Cy Eaton is also a threat to score or set up opportunities with eight goals and nine assists. The Longhorns also have a trio of players with four goals.
A.J. Hobbs provides the senior leadership defensively for the Longhorn back line and sophomore keeper Jamie Wirkler has allowed just over a goal per game this season.
Basalt advanced to the quarterfinal round before falling 1-0 to state runner-up Kent Denver last year, and the Longhorns are looking for even more from its five seniors in 2003.
“The kids just continue to work hard,” Streff said. “Knowing that this could be the seniors’ last game, they want to keep pushing it.”
The winner of today’s game advances to face the winner of Friday’s Salida-Denver Lutheran contest.
Other Western Slope League teams in 3A state tourney action include: No. 15 Aspen at no. 2 Kent Denver and No. 16 Vail Mountain at top-seed Faith Christian. Both games are Saturday.
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The Coal Ridge High boys suffered their first 3A Western Slope League loss of the year Thursday night on the road at Gunnison, falling to the defending league champion Cowboys 65-45.