Skiers beat CRMS, elements
It’s a good thing the players in Tuesday’s Western Slope soccer match between Aspen and Colorado Rocky Mountain School couldn’t use their hands.
When play was finally underway after a 30-minute delay, both teams had to battle the elements as much as one another. Torrential rain, unforgiving wind and plummeting temperatures tested both the players and the fans’ mettle.
Aspen picked a most surprising time to put together one of its strongest first-half performances of the season, scoring three goals in a game called at the half to run its home undefeated streak to five.
“We came out with energy from the start,” Skiers coach Grant Sutherland said. “I don’t know if it was just to stay warm, but the movement was fantastic. We always play well at home.”
Off the field, fans huddled under blankets and Skiers players shielded themselves from the rain with a camouflage tarp. On the slick surface, Aspen was impressive. Junior Stephen Buzbee controlled a centering pass from freshman Jesus Mesa early on in the first and scored from inside the box.
Aspen’s forwards were visibly more aggressive than CRMS and the advantage provided multiple scoring chances. When Buzbee was surrounded by Oysters defenders midway through the second, he passed off to a wide-open Eric Sciarrone who found the back of the net.
Sciarrone was at it again with less than five minutes remaining in the half. On another assist by Buzbee, Sciarrone faked out a defender and slid the ball past CRMS goalie Reid Johns, giving Aspen the three-goal edge.
“We were playing some sexy soccer out there,” Skiers assistant coach John Gillies said. “They’ve been working hard and it paid off. It’s a shame we couldn’t go out there and play the second half.”
Gillies’ sentiments were not echoed by the rest of those in attendance. As time ticked off the clock, many Skiers players had already headed for the locker room. The Oysters’ substitutes attempted to seek shelter under one umbrella while others ran in place.
When the half-time whistle finally blew, a sea of soaked players and parents made their way inside. Players worked hard to warm their hands, which had turned bright red despite being clenched inside of long-sleeve tee-shirts. Some CRMS players even headed for the locker room showers.
“My hands were so cold that I had to make a fist and try and punch the ball away,” Johns said. “When I would go to move, I would take a step and the ground would tear away. I just tried to jump around to stay warm out there.”
Just minutes into half-time ” as winds picked up and steady rain had switched to hail and wet snow ” the decision to halt the game was mutual. It was the second time this season that a game between the two schools had been stopped prematurely. The Sept. 15 contest was called early in the second half after Skiers sweeper Henry Cote collided head-on with CRMS forward Chris Sellers.
Both teams have gone in opposite directions ever since. The Skiers (7-3) are 5-2 in their last seven and have secured their second place position in the Slope standings, trailing only Basalt. CRMS is 3-4 since Sept. 15, and is currently fourth.
“We played so well as a unit out there on defense and offense,” Gillies said. “We don’t play well in the snow, but we sure looked good in the rain.”
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