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November 2, 2012
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Espinoza stuffs Evergreen

EVERGREEN - Mitt Romney? Hasn't got a chance. Barack Obama? No way.

Battle Mountain goalie Christian Espinoza will be a getting everyone's vote after Thursday's state quarterfinal game at Evergreen.

The senior goalie made three clutch saves in the decisive shootout, as Battle Mountain finally slayed the beast that was Evergreen, 2-1.

"I really don't believe it," Espinoza said. "Well, when we didn't score in (overtime), I was hoping we could do PKs. We did penalty kicks in practice (yesterday). I saved a couple. This time, even before extra time was over, I think I was visualizing where they were going to go."

After 110 minutes of thoroughly frustrating soccer - 80 minutes of regulation and 30 of overtime, the Huskies and Cougars went to a shootout tied at one. For 15 years, Huskies soccer coach David Cope has prepared for penalty kicks. He's made a list of his shooters. It has to be the English soccer fan in him.

As it turned out, his shooters were fine, and his best weapon was Espinoza.

Evergreen's Nate Hentges went first and scored. Battle Mountain's Roberto Diaz tied the kicks at one. The Cougars' Adriano Borsa was Espinoza's first victim. Erick Brionnes put the Huskies ahead, 2-1. Espinoza then stuffed Evergreen's Joe McKenna. Battle Mountain's Gunnar Wilson calmly netted his shot. Matthew Jackson was Evergreen's last hope.

Espinoza made the save and absolute bedlam broke out as the Huskies and their faithful stormed the field.

"I knew I could stop at least one," Espinoza said. "The last guy, I knew he was going to the middle. There's no words for it. It's once in a lifetime."

For Battle Mountain, it's shaping up as a once-in-a-lifetime season. The Huskies finally expunged "The Evergreen Curse." The Cougars had eliminated the Huskies from the playoffs the last three years - in the first round in 2009, the second round in 2010 and the quarters last year. The Huskies are also now 18-0, a school record, and heading to the state semifinals for the first time in school history.

"It's been a long time in coming," Huskies coach David Cope said. "A lot of these guys had lost on this field before. A lot of alumni had lost on that field. It was pretty cathartic. You could see it in the celebration at the end."

It was a story-book ending to an otherwise frustrating evening. The Huskies dominated, but could not get the game-winner.

Evergreen struck first in the 22nd minute off a free kick. The Cougars' McKenna sent the ball in, drawing out the Huskies' defense and Espinoza. That left Evergreen's Jackson with a header into an empty net.

The Huskies responded quickly and emphatically, though. Just seven minutes later, Diego Rodriguez had a corner on the left side. His cross bounced around the box and Diaz absolutely crushed the ball into the back of the net for the equalizer.


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The VailDaily Updated Nov 2, 2012 01:53AM Published Nov 2, 2012 01:45AM Copyright 2012 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.