EDWARDS - It was Senior Night, and Battle Mountain girls soccer beat archrival Steamboat Springs, 3-0, for a season sweep to clinch a state-playoff spot Tuesday.
Life really doesn't get much better than that for the Huskies.
"It's a pretty nice win for us," said Huskies senior Haille Hogfeldt, who had two of her team's three goals."
It feels really good, especially with everything together - Senior Night, it's Steamboat, we clinch the playoffs."
After the Sailors swept the season series last year, the Huskies returned the favor Tuesday. More importantly, the Huskies are back in the playoffs after a one-year absence, the first time the program had missed the playoffs since 2003.
"It's so nice. Last year was rough, but we have a great group of girls this year," Hogfeldt said. "To be going back to the playoffs - I think we can do a lot. It's a special group."
Battle Mountain upped its record to 9-4-1 overall and 8-3 in the 4A Slope. The Huskies wrap the season today at Moffat County. Steamboat (9-4-1, 6-4) likely faces a must win against Palisade Friday night at 6 at Gardner Field. (More on that later.)
In fairness to Steamboat Springs, the Sailors were in a difficult situation. Steamboat was coming off spring break, a rather late vacation.
"We feel good about the effort," Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. "Where we are for coming off eight days, it was a good showing. Now, the focus is on (Palisade). It's a quick recovery."
Battle Mountain applied the pressure early, but it wasn't until the 24th minute that the Huskies broke the seal on this one. From 30 yards out, Hogfeldt faked her first shot. The second attempt was a laser into the back of the net.
"The fake shot is one of my favorite moves," she said. "I love to shoot a lot. I've practiced driving the ball every day for the past seven years now. It went off my foot right."
Logan Nash from Molly Phannenstiel gave the Huskies some breathing room in the 56th minute. It's hard to describe a player like Nash, a freshman, as in a slump as that was her 15th goal of the year. But she hadn't scored in her last three games, so that was a nice sign as the playoffs approach.
Hogfeldt blasted in a free kick with seven minutes remaining to ice it.
"I thought we played really well," Huskies coach David Cope said. "We had some nice spells of possessions. It was a nice way to go out on our homefield if, in fact, we're away for the playoffs."
The Huskies will find out their playoff draw on Sunday when it comes out on chsaa.org. In the meantime, Steamboat's playoff fate is up in the air. The Western Slope region, not the league itself, gets five spots.
Glenwood Springs, Battle Mountain and Durango have clinched. Steamboat, Palisade and Montrose are competing for the final two berths. For the purposes of seeding within the region, Steamboat has 28 points, Palisade 27 and Montrose 21. If the Sailors beat Palisade Friday night, they're dancing. A loss Friday night combined with Montrose winning its final two games against Fruita Monument and Grand Junction this week, would spell the end of the year for the Sailors. (Montrose gets four points for wins in the 5A Southwestern League.)
"We've got a lot to play for," Bohlmann said.
Longtime Battle Mountain coach Pat Phelan gave the Huskies a pregame talk. He reeled off names and asked if any members of the team recognized them. They were his football teammates at Mullen High School for his final game 45 years ago. The point was you never forgot your senior teammates, so play for them. "He said, 'Does that mean I'm responsible for the outcome?' We'll give him credit where credit is due," Cope said. ... Battle Mountain's seniors are Kelli Lindsay, Claire Jacks, Maggie Battaglin, Hogfeldt, Maddie Stevens and Emma Porter. ... Assistant coach Allie O'Neill was also listed on the roster as a senior, wearing No. 99. This was her second time as a senior. The Class of 2005 alumna is heading to Costa Rica next year to teach and coach soccer. "She should play tomorrow if she's on there," Hogfeldt joked.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.