EDWARDS — It’s amazing how many people you can stuff into a conference room — really a glorified utility closet.
It was yet another feat by an accomplished team, even in defeat. Valor Christian converted a penalty kick in the 70th minute — on a hand ball in the box, one of the crueler breaks in the game — and the Eagles added one later for a 2-0 win over Battle Mountain soccer during Saturday’s second-round playoff game on a chilly and damp day in Edwards.
But there they were — 23 Huskies and two coaches packing themselves into a room among a ladder, a refrigerator and some folding chairs.
“It’s because we’re really close and we love each other,” senior Bridgett Courtois said. “We’re always near each other whether we’re sitting in this hallway or in the conference room.”
Head coach David Cope went through his twice-a-year salute to each of his seniors and the remarks were thoughtful and appreciated.
“I think it was a show of character of the team we are,” senior Karely Duran said. “I think everything we said in there was part of what we are. Just to see how positive we were in there shows how good of a family we are.”
There were understandably a lot of tears, and happily, some laughs. More importantly, it was another moment together, and the Huskies decided to keep it going by figuring out a place to go for dinner.
Life does go on, no matter how crushing the loss. As is learned three times annually— fall, winter and spring — very few teams go home happy, and the Huskies joined those minions.
“You always know it’s going to end. It’s just shocking it was today,” Cope said. “I think second halves haven’t been kind to Battle Mountain over the last two days. That’s a shame. I really thought Valor was there for the taking. I can’t fault any of our players and the effort and their integrity in the way they approach their lives. I was just proud to have coached them.”
Battle Mountain finished 15-2, and as two-time defending league champions. The Huskies nabbed the fourth spot in the bracket, the highest any Battle Mountain soccer team ever received. And, if it’s any consolation, favorites were falling all over the bracket on Saturday, including No. 5 Niwot and No. 7 Montrose.
Well Matched Battle
The Huskies had their chances, and so did the visiting Eagles. It was simply two good teams going at it for 70 minutes before Valor got a break. Jastin Redman converted and that was the clincher.
“The PK is so unfortunate, but when you’re defending in your own penalty area, you risk that happening,” Cope said. “I was so proud of the way we defended, the way we stayed together and the way we battled.
“It’s the best girls team we’ve had. To earn a second-round home game, only a few minutes away from hosting a quarterfinal, the leadership we had from the seniors was just outstanding. The poise they showed on the field. the way they set the bar for their classmates, that’s going to be highly successful group in life.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.