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October 31, 2012
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Evergreen time ... again for the Huskies

Welcome to the biggest soccer game in the history of everything as Battle Mountain heads down to take on Evergreen at 6 p.m. today in the state quarterfinals.

Because we love him, we repeat the game is at 6 p.m. at Evergreen, Charlie Penwill.

• Evergreen has a special or not so special place in Battle Mountain's heart as the Cougars have knocked the Huskies out of the playoffs the last three years. Just to refresh everyone's memories (or to motivate the boys) ...

In 2009, Evergreen handed Battle Mountain its lunch, 7-2, in the first round of the playoffs in Edwards. Center-back David Gonzalez had gone down with a knee injury in the second-to-last game of the regular season. To make matters worse, one of Battle Mountain's players had a family emergency on game day, and chaos ensued.

In 2010, Evergreen won, 2-0, in the second round down on the Front Range.

On Nov. 1, 2011, one year ago today, the Cougars eliminated the Huskies, 3-1 in the quarterfinals.

I was interviewing seniors Christian Espinoza, David Suarez and Joe LyBarger on Saturday after the Huskies beat Pueblo Centennial to advance to today's game. Since Evergreen and Golden were just starting their second-round game when I was talking to the guys, I asked them whether they wanted another home playoff game (if Golden had won) or to see Evergreen.

The answer came quickly and unanimously - Evergreen.

• While the Huskies have gone about their playoff business well and said the right things, I know that Battle Mountain isn't pleased that it got the sixth seed and is on the road for today's game. The team has a point, especially given the Huskies' and Cougars' results against their one common opponent, Steamboat Springs. (Evergreen beat the Sailors, 1-0, while the Huskies have 4-0 and 5-0 wins against their archrivals in the Slope.)

That said, the Huskies should have to go on the road for this one. Evergreen is the champ in this series until Battle Mountain proves otherwise. There's also just such a Hollywood aspect to it Cue the voice one always hears in a movie trailer, "This time it's personal ... Battle Mountain-Evergreen IV."

• OK, assistant coach Kyle Mercer (who is a fan of the 2010 and 2012 World Series champion San Francisco Giants) gave what I will call "The Mr. Happy Fun Guy Speech" Saturday afternoon during halftime of the Pueblo Centennial game. Mercer exhorted the team to play with more passion. (That's a rough translation.)

If anything, I'd dial back the emotion today. As listed above, there is an awful lot motivation. No rah-rah speeches are needed. (Win one for the Coper? Nah.) Gents, you've got to be calm. My bet is that Battle Mountain can avoid being frazzled in the first 10-15 minutes, this will end well.

• Have fun or else. OK, maybe, that's not the best way to phrase it, but there's some truth to it. Battle Mountain doesn't need to focus on tactics tonight. That's ingrained at this point. These guys have been playing together forever.

Wednesday's practice, by design, was light. This isn't coach David Cope's first rodeo. But the fellas, as Cope would call them, were the ones making it light - zingers back and forth, good-natured competition and so on.

It's not fake. (I've seen Battle Mountain soccer teams where it was, and you can't fake it.) As talented as this team is - it's extremely high - this vibe is the Huskies' biggest asset. Have fun and do you what you do.

• And here's the bait for today and the rest of the playoffs.

I stink at sports (with the exception of my brilliant back-heel rebound Wednesday at practice). But I know what its like to pursue and want something in the sports world. I went to my first Giants game on July 23, 1977, and that was it. For better or worse - and it's been a lot of the latter - I have invested my life into that team.

As I kid, I dreamed what it would be like for the Giants to win the World Series with surprisingly enough, a young phenom named Freud, leading San Francisco to the crown. As an adult, I've watched the trials and travails on my team, and dreamed of the moment the Giants would win.

What's really amazing is that it's even better than you dream it when it actually happens. Trust me here.

You guys win today, and you could well be on your way.

It's yours for the taking.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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The VailDaily Updated Oct 31, 2012 11:22PM Published Oct 31, 2012 11:14PM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.