EDWARDS - Yes, you, Sarawut.
Late in Thursday night's soccer match against Steamboat Springs, the Huskies got a penalty kick and Battle Mountain coach David Cope called for senior Sarawut Yubonmai to take it.
"What? That's me," Yubonmai said after the game. "I'm so happy."
Yubonmai's goal capped a solid, but not overly-crisp 4-0 victory for Battle Mountain over Steamboat Springs, giving the Huskies a season sweep of their league rivals Thursday in Edwards.
And here lies the conundrum for the Huskies, now 11-0 overall and 9-0 in the Slope. A season sweep is always big in this storied rivalry, much less the fact that the Sailors didn't score on Battle Mountain in two tries.
But with the Huskies' sights set higher, or more particularly at a run at state, the reaction was almost that of ho-hum. How does a team try to keep high standards of play and also enjoy the ride?
"It's exciting and upsetting at some points," said Battle Mountain senior Gunnar Wilson, who had his team's second goal. "We know what we're capable of. It's also exciting because we have that much more potential in us."
"It's a challenge with high school kids not to believe the score lines and to recognize that there are going to be challenges down the road," Cope said. "Sometimes, maybe, that comes across as harshness with the players. We've got to make sure that they're enjoying this. We're 11-0 and that's really special. It's a fine line between still pushing them and working real hard to be better and also have them enjoy the results."
Along those lines, the next challenge for Battle Mountain is a Monday tilt at Summit County at 6 p.m. A win ices the league for the Huskies. Meanwhile Steamboat (6-5 and 4-3) is in a battle to make the state playoffs. The Sailors host Palisade Saturday at 11 a.m.
"We have four games remaining, and, at this point, we're looking to get maximum points - four games, four wins, 12 points," Steamboat Springs coach Rob Bohlmann said. "We feel that gives us a shot to get into the postseason as one of those four (teams) out of our league."
While it was not the best game Battle Mountain has played this year, the Huskies had this one from the start. Battle Mountain's Alex Trujillo got the first of his two assists, feeding Roberto Diaz in the eighth minute. Heivan Garcia to Wilson made it 2-0 in the 21st.
Steamboat's junior goalie Carter Kounovsky kept the score there with two magnificent saves toward the end of the half. Battle Mountain finally put it away when senior Joe LyBarger broke through the Sailors' defense, received a nice through-ball from Trujillo and scored his 19th of the season.
While the Huskies' camp is very much focused on the team result, LyBarger's 19th ties him for third with Dan Weiland, Class of 1993, for most goals in a season at Battle Mountain. (Andy Banner had 23 in 2004 and Scott Ligouri notched 20 in 2000.)
Steamboat did mount some possession as the game progressed, but was still lacking the accompanying run to turn that into scoring,
"There are areas in our game where we feel we've improved and are getting stronger," Bohlmann said.
While Steamboat Springs will be trying to avenge a 4-2 loss last month to Palisade on Saturday, Battle Mountain gears up for a rematch with its toughest league opponent to date, Summit County, on Monday. The Huskies defeated the Tigers, 3-1, on Sept. 25 in Edwards in a monsoon.
"I think it's going to be pretty tough," Wilson said. "It was pretty scary here. It was closer than a 3-1 game. We can't overlook it at all. It can give us the league."
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.