EDWARDS — Hey, the new guy’s a keeper.
There were lots of faces in new places for Battle Mountain soccer, but senior David Ortiz certainly caught some notice with a hat trick during the first 20 minutes of the game in the Huskies’ season opening 9-0 rout of Palisade on Thursday night in Edwards.
“They couldn’t wait to get started,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “I think David Ortiz was trying to make up for lost time.”
A legitimate question would be “Where the heck has Ortiz been?” Ortiz has been at the Developmental Academy of U.S. Soccer, and if you’re in this program, you can’t play high school.
“It’s fun. The crowd’s a lot bigger,” Ortiz said. “It was my first varsity high school game, so I was nervous. I didn’t expect to score four goals, but I felt good. I’ve been friends with all these guys for a while, so I know them well. Preseason really helped.”
Ortiz jumped on a rebound from a shot by Andrew Herrera in the fifth minute. Three minutes later, defender Eli Stephens started the surge forward with a nifty header. Francisco Serna went from there, feeding the ball to Ortiz for a 2-0 lead.
Wasn’t he a goalie?
Goal No. 3 was not a new face, but certainly a guy in a different place. Meet one of your new strikers, Huskies fans, Donnie Leavitt. Yep, last year’s keeper is now up top with Aaron Milligan, while Jack Skidmore tends to the pipes, backed up by Owen Riley. (Battle Mountain may well lead the Slope in imposing tall goalkeepers.)
“Donnie’s the epitome of what we preach around here — whatever the team needs,” Cope said. “His freshman year, we needed a back-up keeper and he did it. His sophomore year, we needed a starting keeper. And he became that. This year, he and Jack Skidmore are two too good athletes to have one of them off the field. We had to find a place in the 11 for both of them.”
Leavitt may become an answer to a good trivia question. Who won 15 games in goal one year and then scored a bunch of goals the next?
Back to Riley, he did save 2-of-3 penalty kicks during a halftime contest, where cheerleaders picked out fans from the stands to do the honors. In actual game activity, Skidmore and Riley teamed up for the shutout.
While Skidmore and the defense weren’t really tested by the Bulldogs, Cope is playing four in back with Andrew Herrera, Creek Kamby, Stephens and Tony Luevanos. Stephens is the veteran of that unit with Herrera also having seen some time last year.
Ortiz finished his day with the hat trick at the 20-minute mark, and he actually got to score a fourth in the second half. (Cope usually takes out his scorers after three.) In fact, only two others have scored four goals in a game with Cope as the coach. They are Kelsey Sanders for the ladies and Alberto Saenz for the gents.
Leavitt rang up his second score in the second half as well, and Luevanos, Erik Solis, Edgardo Rodriguez got their first of the year.
Battle Mountain (1-0) should get a sterner test on Saturday when the Huskies host Delta. This is an intriguing matchup as the Panthers handed Battle Mountain one of its two regular season losses in Delta last year. That was a nonconference game in 2013, but it’s the first of two Slope tilts this season.
“They’re a good team, and they backed it up with a good season after beating us,” Cope said. “They ended up losing to Montrose in overtime, so they’re a good, good team. We expect a good challenge.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.