EDWARDS - Battle Mountain soccer defeated Eagle Valley, 4-0, Thursday night in Edwards, but the scoreboard read 15-0 after the game.
Battle Mountain's win puts the 2012 team in the history books. This year's Huskies are the first boys soccer team at the school to go a perfect 15-0 during the regular season. (The Battle Mountain girls soccer team did it in 2008.)
"Any time you get on a roll like this, there's a tendency for people to forget how difficult it is," said Huskies coach David Cope, who's done double duty in the fall and spring since 2003. "There are a lot of ways it can go wrong. If it was easy, people would do it all the time. We're really proud of these guys as we were the girls' team. We know that the playoffs present a whole new challenge. There'll be a hungry team coming here on Thursday."
The Huskies are assured of a home game Thursday at a time to be determined. Battle Mountain finds out its opponent Sunday as all will likely be clicking the refresh button early and often on their computers and smart phones on chsaa.org.
The bigger question is what number the seed will be? Battle Mountain has never been higher than No. 5 (2005), and the distinction between Nos. 4 and 5 is huge. The Huskies, who started the year in The Denver Post Poll at No. 8 and are holding down the second spot, would desperately love to get into the top four.
Seed Nos. 1-4, if they win, get home games for the first three rounds of the 32-team tournament before the state playoffs head down to Denver for the semifinals and finals. The importance of home field? Battle Mountain has only one win in the state tournament on the road, Conifer in 2005, dating back to its 3A days in 1998, the beginning of 15-straight postseason appearances for the team.
"I think we're deserving of a top-four (seed)," Cope said. "That would put us in Edwards, Colorado, which is where we like to be."
The "Edwards, Colorado" reference, to which Cope alluded, is relevant because the town appears on the back of the Huskies' new 4A Slope championship sweatshirts. Battle Mountain's players and coaches, all garbed in the new hoodies, gathered underneath the scoreboard which displayed "15-0" to celebrate after the game.
All involved jumped up and down while singing "Ole."
"It's pretty exciting," said senior goalie Christian Espinoza, who has backstopped a superb defense all season. "As a team, we see that we're something bigger. We're united. We care for each other. We try to respect each other."
Another item on the sweatshirts is the phrase, "Kyle's last stand," speaking of assistant coach Kyle Mercer, who is leaving the team after what it hopes is a long run into November.
"It's so fun," said senior Joe LyBarger, who had two goals Thursday night. "We're hoping for five more. As Kyle always said, it's 'The Promised Land.' We have to get there. Every game is just another dress rehearsal before the big show. We're just trying to work our way up and get better every day."
And in answer to a pressing question, it doesn't take a LyBarger, according to Joe, for a Battle Mountain team to go 15-0. Two of LyBarger's older sisters, Emily and Maddie, were on the 2008 15-0 squad.
Eagle Valley did not go gentle into the good night Thursday. The Huskies got a lead in the ninth minute when Broby Leeds hooked up with LyBarger. The Devils (5-10) kept it 1-0 into the second half.
"We were in the game for (80) minutes, including playing with one man down," said Eagle Valley coach Bratzo Horruitiner, who finished his first season at the helm of the program. "(Battle Mountain) is a great team. They controlled the ball well and they don't make mistakes. I think our players are showing progress every week."
Down 2-0 - LyBarger again, this time from Roberto Diaz - the Devils got their best scoring chance as both Eagle Valley's Alan Caraveo and Espinoza contested for a ball in front of Battle Mountain's goal.
They collided, causing a scary moment for both teams and sparking some controversy. Caraveo left the game and appeared to be being treated for a concussion. Espinoza stayed in the game.
"I was just focused on the ball," Espinoza said. "I wasn't focused on my surroundings. My mouth still hurts."
While the trainer was attending to Caraveo and Espinoza. Eagle Valley's Angelo Vasquez and Battle Mountain's Chris Shea started jawing at each other. They had to be separated during the stoppage.
Minutes later, the two were at it again near the west sideline. The refs saw Vasquez throw a right hook which hit Shea, and the former was red-carded. Eagle Valley's bench argued vehemently that Shea should have received the same, but to no avail.
Battle Mountain iced the game with goals by David Suarez and Heivan Garcia.
Halftime felt like a football Homecoming game as the Huskies were honoring their 13 seniors. The members of Battle Mountain soccer's Class of 2013 are Espinoza, Leeds, Shea, Suarez, LyBarger, Diego Rodriguez, Gunnar Wilson, Erick Briones, Kevin Gillie, Sarawut Yubonmai, Nigel Johnsen, Garcia and Jimmy O'Rourke.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.