With five goals from Stewart, ‘Horns overwhelm Rams
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Basalt’s Melissa Stewart was visibly unnerved. In the first nine minutes in Tuesday’s girls soccer game against Roaring Fork, she launched a shot that sailed mere inches outside the far post and hit the crossbar.
The senior finally looked human.
At least for a few fleeting moments, anyway.
Stewart regrouped, scoring five goals during a 28-minute stretch as the Longhorns overwhelmed the Rams. Basalt cruised to a 9-0 victory, improving to 6-1-1 on the season.
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“The field had some weird bounces on it, and all my touches seemed off,” Stewart said. “It was frustrating at first. … It started coming together OK.”
That is an understatement. As two defenders chased after Longhorns freshman Ginevra Moore up the left sideline in the 18th minute, Stewart faded toward some open space in the middle of the pitch. When Moore passed to her, Stewart launched a shot that clipped the net in the bottom right corner, stretching the lead to 2-0.
That sight would become all too familiar to a flustered and seemingly overmatched Rams squad. With a defender on her back in the 23rd minute, Stewart, the presumptive front-runner for 3A Western Slope player of the year, let a fly ball fall to her feet, made a quick move to her left and flicked a shot over goalkeeper Nancy Leyva.
She received some help to pick up the hat trick in the 27th minute; her shot from left of the net bounded off a Roaring Fork defender and into the near corner.
“I think we walked on the field thinking we were going to lose,” Rams head coach Ivone Munoz said. “It was a little difficult without any scoring. As soon as they started scoring, morale was down.”
Roaring Fork had a chance to strike first when, in the ninth minute, a Longhorns defender was whistled for a hand ball inside the box. Kathy Vega lined up for the ensuing penalty kick, but Basalt keeper Jamie Matherly guessed right, dove to her right and deflected the shot out of harm’s way.
Basalt’s Katie Peckler knocked home a rebound minutes later, and the Longhorns’ offense started clicking.
“I thought we lacked intensity, but we did have some good passing,” Basalt head coach Makenzie Buck said. “I’ll take good possessions over intensity. … It’s nice to score some goals. We’ve had a hard time finding the net.”
Stewart has been at the center of that offensive resurgence. After scoring the Longhorns’ lone goal in a win over Aspen last Tuesday, she connected three times in Saturday’s 5-2 win over Vail Mountain School.
She was just getting warmed up. Stewart had another open look in the 35th minute Tuesday, and connected for a fourth time in the first half.
Moore made Roaring Fork pay for a failed clear no more than 15 second later to give Basalt the 6-0 halftime lead.
Stewart put the finishing touches on a career game in the 46th minute, outrunning two defenders and finishing low. She watched the final 30 minutes from the bench.
Moore and Katie King tacked on goals in the final 17 minutes for the Longhorns, who host Grand Valley at 4 p.m. Thursday.
“I can’t complain about that (effort),” Buck said. “We’re trying to get better every game. … We should start peaking soon, hopefully.”
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