Rams top Aspen with 2-0 victory
ASPEN — Down two goals with only seconds to play, Aspen High School senior Annabelle Wilcox chased down the soccer ball at midfield as if it were the opening minutes of the match.
She frantically rushed the ball ahead in one final, vain attempt to put the Skiers on the scoreboard.
The final horn, however, ended the contest with valley-rival Roaring Fork holding a 2-0 victory on a bittersweet Senior Day at Aspen High School.
The loss didn’t dampen the enthusiasm Wilcox shared with her fellow seniors in their final Class 3A Western Slope League game.
“I feel like you’ve got to give all you have,” said Wilcox, known for her relentless play. “It’s one of our last games. Might as well go all out, try your hardest.”
Once in each half, Wilcox nearly found the net against the Rams, who had already clinched a berth in the postseason playoffs.
But each time, the Roaring Fork defense turned back the challenge with goalie Madison Handy protecting the shutout for the Rams, 12-2-1 overall, 7-2-0 in conference.
The Rams, meanwhile, scored in the 10th minute of play with Emily Fisher’s first goal.
The sophomores cored again midway through the second half. Assists for Roaring Fork went to Taylor Adams, Heidi Small and Nayeli Alfaro.
Play in the rivalry match turned physical in the second match.
After watching one of her teammates get leveled in a collision, Wilcox answered with a hard tackle of her own.
The senior captain drew a yellow card, a huge cheer from her teammates and even more respect from her head coach.
“I can’t stand by and watch one of my teammates get pushed around. I’m not like that,” said Wilcox, the daughter of Juliet and John Wilcox. “I have to get in there and stand up for my team.”
Marrs, injured earlier in the season, started for the Skiers and was on the field for the opening minute before moving to the sidelines to cheer on her teammates.
McGuren also drew the attention of Roaring Fork and head coach Heather Fox.
“The first time we saw (Aspen) this season, we learned their keeper plays really far out in the field,” Fox said. “We practiced for that (Wednesday), and I feel like we were ready for that (Thursday).”
She said McGuren does a great job trigger the Aspen counterattack with her aggressive play out of the net.
“She plays it very well. She has a great read on the game, which is why she can do that.”
Fox was pleased with the Rams passing, particularly on a Fisher goal that came at the end of five consecutive passes.
“Those are the plays you want to capture. That’s what you are trying to teach,” the Roaring Fork coach said. “You love to see that.”
She also praised the steady play of her shutout defense, led by Maddie Nieslanik, Toni Gross and Georgia Ackerman, among others.
“We’re hoping this win will put us in a better position for state,” Fox said of the Rams, with a veteran roster of eight seniors. They’ll advance to the Class 3A playoffs next week.
The Skiers, meanwhile, will host Grand Valley in a nonconference game at 4 p.m. today at Aspen High School.
With Thursday’s loss, they fell to 4-4-1 in conference, 5-4-4 overall.
Coal Ridge, Grand Valley, Roaring Fork will advance to the playoffs along with Moffat County, the team that edged the Skiers with a 5-4-0 league record.
Speakman helps Grand Valley top Basalt
BASALT — Ashlynn Speakman scored a pair of free-kick goals in the second half to go with a last-minute goal from Kyra Chenoweth, giving Grand Valley a 3-1 Class 3A Western Slope League win over Basalt.
Basalt pulled within 2-1 in the 60th minute with a goal, but a six-save performance from Erin Schuckers in goal also helped Grand Valley prevail and finish second in the league standings with an 8-1-0 league mark.
Grand Valley plays its final regular-season match at Aspen today.
Big inning helps Rifle keep rolling
CRAIG — Bailey Hoffmeister had three hits and scored three times, and Rifle’s five-run sixth inning helped the Bears pull away for a 9-2 Class 4A Western Slope League victory over Steamboat Springs.
Triston Quigley had two hits and three RBIs for the Bears (11-6, 7-5 league), whose only games remaining are at Deerfield Park in Rifle Saturday against woeful Battle Mountain.
Danny Bartels went the distance on the mound, allowing one earned run and four walks with nine strikeouts. Layton Stutsman’s two-run double came as part of the Bears’ big sixth inning that helped them pull away.
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