EDWARDS — After much refreshing of the internet browsers on Sunday, rainbows burst out over the eastern end of Eagle County. One might have heard a chorus break into Handel’s “Hallelujah” chorus. Some Huskies fans may have broken with tears of joy.
Battle Mountain soccer actually got a good seed for the state tournament.
Seriously, people, you need to take back all those nasty thoughts you were getting ready to say about CHSAA — all those sixth-seed jokes you had readied — and send a kind word toward Denver.
At 14-1, Battle Mountain girls soccer drew No. 4 and will host No. 29 Denver West today at 3:30 p.m. in the first of what the Huskies hope will be three home playoff games in Edwards.
“It was very gratifying for everyone involved,” said Huskies coach David Cope, who has seen his 2012 boys soccer team (15-0) receive the No. 6 seed on the way to a state title as well as his 2008 undefeated girls team get No. 9. “It’s gratifying for the players past and present and the people around it to see the program recognized for its success year after year. I think we allowed ourselves to enjoy it for the rest of Sunday and then we were back to work on Monday.”
Living up to the seed
Now, the trick is to win, not only for the 2014 edition of Battle Mountain soccer, but for future Huskies teams and the Western Slope. While it is pressure, this team might be the best suited to do so on the girls’ side. With all respect given to the 2008 team, the best girls team in the school’s history to date, this year’s squad has a defense.
Reason No. 1 Cope, who was going through his usual first-round jitters on Tuesday, feels good about this team is that it has six seniors essentially in back. (Fear not, people, Cope has had jitters before every playoff opener dating back to 1998. Be more worried if he didn’t.) Back to the defense, it’s goalie Mindy Vickers, the foursome of Karely Duran, Megan Hogfeldt, Jenai Denardo and Bridgett Courtois and holding midfielder Alexis Nibbelink. The unit has put up 11 goose eggs in 15 games and only allowed more than one goal in a game twice — to Coal Ridge, which drew No. 6 in Class 3A, in a 4-2 win, and, of course, the Glenwood Springs game, which will never be spoken of again.
Offense has really not been an issue for the Huskies past or present. From Christina Aiello to the psychic connection of Kelsey Sanders and Julia Burnett to LyBargers (Emily and Maddie) to Lizzie Seibert, this team seems fine there.
Logan Nash’s 25 goals pop off the page, but there’s a lot of depth. Morgan Croke, Acacia Ortiz, Melissa Lopez, Molly Phannenstiel and Emily Cope all have six or more goals this season. Ortiz (18), Cope (12) and Croke (10) are all in double digits in assists.
While coach Cope obviously did not wish to see it happen during last week’s Slope championship game, the Huskies showed that offensive depth when Emily Cope went down with a hip injury. Her replacement was Lopez, and she scored the team’s third goal against Steamboat Springs.
“That produces a good feeling among the coaching staff,” said the coach, who said Emily’s fine and will be starting today. “You’ve not just prepared 11 players. You’ve prepared a team.”
Of course, Denver South is not coming up to Edwards to roll over and die. The Rebels were 8-7 overall and 5-3 in the 4A/5A Denver Prep League. They are coached by Kenny Wood who used to coach at Durango, so Denver South should be familiar with Western Slope soccer. The Huskies and Rebels share one common opponent — Silver Creek. The Huskies logged a 1-0 victory; Denver South a 4-0 loss. Yet as Cope said, it’s a “new ball game in the playoffs.”
The Huskies soccer team is opening a day of playoff action in Edwards with the boys lacrosse team — also seeded fourth — hosting Air Academy at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s really great to have two Battle Mountain teams in the playoffs, both seeded the same,” Cope said. “It’ll be a great day for our school, a fun doubleheader. Hopefully, we’ll have a big crowd for our game, and then everyone can go get a Larkburger and come back for another fun game.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.