EDWARDS - Battle Mountain soccer took out its No. 2 ranking in the state out for a test drive Tuesday night, and so far, so good.
The Huskies, who have never been ranked this high by The Denver Post, came away with a water-logged 3-1 win over Summit County Tuesday at Edwards in the first of what will likely be two critical 4A Slope meetings this fall.
Battle Mountain moved to 8-0 overall and 6-0 in the Slope, while handing Summit (5-3, 4-1) its first league loss. The teams meet again in Farmer's Korner on Oct. 9.
"It's early days, but it's a nice testament to what we've done over the last few years with this group," Huskies coach David Cope said. "One of the things we talked about before the game is that it's nice to be ranked when there are leaves on the ground. But we want to be ranked when there's snow on the ground."
"We don't want it to get to our heads and get cocky," said senior striker Joe LyBarger, summing it up nicely.
LyBarger had a very big hand in this one with a goal and two assists.
"We man-marked No. 6," Summit coach Tommy Gogolan said. "We knew he was good. He got good touches."
Battle Mountain had two quality goals in the first half, using their home pitch and its width to maximum advantage. Alex Trujillo chipped the ball up the left side to Roberto Diaz who had a perfect cross to LyBarger. No. 6 one-timed it past Tigers goalie Noah Glasco for a 1-0 lead. LyBarger fed Diaz on a beauty of a corner kick and the latter slammed it in to the back of the net later in the first half.
Summit, however, did not go away. The Tigers kept building pressure in the second half and that got Peter Grotemeyer a penalty kick in the 64th minute. The Tigers senior went to his right and halved Battle Mountain's margin to 2-1.
"I'm proud of them," Gogolan said. "The conditions were tough. We played with them. I thought we dominated in the second half. The score doesn't show that. It was unfortunate that they scored with like five seconds left. But Battle Mountain's a good team."
So's Summit. The Tigers are 5-3, but their nonconference schedule does them credit. Those three losses are to the Huskies (ranked No. 2 in 4A), Valor Christian (No. 8 in 4A) and Colorado Academy (No. 2 in the 3A).
Glasco, a sophomore, was magnificent for the Tigers in net, especially as conditions deteriorated in the second half - any shot on goal was a serious adventure.
Battle Mountain iced the game on a LyBarger free kick to David Suarez, who crashed into the box and pounced on the loose ball.
"It was a free kick from Joe," Suarez said. "The goal keeper couldn't handle it because of the rain. I just followed the shot and it made it through."
Glasco, unfortunately, had to leave the game after that sequence, but was walking off the pitch under his own power after the game. Gogolan said that Glasco would be ready to go for Summit's next contest.
Both the Huskies and the Tigers have Palisade next. Battle Mountain's at Longs Park in Grand Junction at 4 p.m. on Thursday. The Bulldogs then come to Farmer's Korner for an 11 a.m. game Saturday.
And while there's a lot of soccer to go before the second meeting between the Huskies and Tigers next month, there was a little peaking ahead after Thursday's game.
"We know going back to Summit is going to be a battle," Cope said.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.