Well, well, well.
We have a soccer race in the 4A Slope. It couldn’t be any other way. Teams don’t run away and hide in this league. Last year was an exception, not the rule.
This would be where I would talk about the end of Battle Mountain’s 27-game winning streak, but the real winner in the sequence of events in the last week is actually Eagle Valley soccer.
Bratzo Horruitiner’s Devils are on the rise. We may look back on Tuesday’s 3-3 draw with Steamboat Springs or last week’s scoreless tie at Summit, and say, “That was when this program turned around.”
History serves as an important guide here. As the Huskies built their program in the late ’90s and early-aughts, Steamboat was the mountain that had to be summited — bad pun — and when the Huskies finally tied Steamboat, 2-2, that became known as the “Battle Mountain beats Steamboat, 2-2” game. (Battle Mountain finally did actually defeat the Sailors in 2003, and started rolling.)
In its case, Eagle Valley’s mountain to climb is Battle Mountain (subliminal message: Oct. 17), and the Devils are close, judging by last week’s narrow 1-0 loss in Edwards. The next step for the Devils is learning how to win. You could see this on Tuesday in Gypsum against Steamboat.
Yes, Steamboat has a tendency to give up goals after scoring them, as their coach, Rob Bohlmann, noted. But you could also see the Devils attacking with skill. (That was a beauty of a score from Aldo Palacios to Miles Petterson to make it 2-2. That’s soccer, boys.) Eagle Valley needs to maintain that urgency. (And yes, the Devils almost had the game winner on a beautiful cut back along the end line from Palacios to Aaron Ledezma, who just couldn’t quite get a foot on it.)
The Devils are close, and guess what? That means you guys have to work even harder to find the next level — get healthy and do the work that forces Horruitiner to put you in the lineup. The Devils can do a lot of damage (subliminal message: Oct. 17) before the season is done and in years beyond.
Other news and notes before Freud goes to Battle Mountain-Delta volleyball:
• Battle Mountain soccer, take a bow. Winning 27 games in a row is ... a tremendous accomplishment at any level. (Sorry, obligatory Cope-ism.) Rather than dwell on the defensive breakdown that led to Summit’s first goal or the Tigers’ second goal, which was tremendous, examine them, and yes, appreciate them. The difference between the 2-1 loss you experienced and the 2-1 win you wanted is so fine. In an 80-minute game, it took two sequences which probably took all of 20 seconds to end the streak.
That is how sharp Battle Mountain has been during 27 games. The Huskies prevented that from happening or overcame it during the previous 2,160 minutes (probably more with a few overtimes thrown in) in the past year or so. And that was against a lot of good sides — not just in the playoffs, but against good Slope teams both this past year and this year.
This was going to end sometime. I’m kind of glad it did. (OK, confession time, I had assumed that some form of the season-opening games against Montrose and Steamboat would have done it.) I really didn’t want the Huskies going into the playoffs with a 35-game run. Let’s just walk around with a bull’s eye on your back.
Now, what do you do, boys? First is how do you bounce back Tuesday at Glenwood Springs? (Subliminal message: Stubler Field is a terrible place for the Huskies.) Do you muddle through the rest of the season at .500 and have an early playoff exit? (Subliminal message: Do you play at Steamboat on Thursday?) Or is this a turning point in the season? (Subliminal message: Oct. 8 at Summit.)
And how are you going to adjust to teams packing it in at the center of the attacking end? It’s a good idea to try to bottle up Roberto Diaz and Brandon Osorio and company, especially as you play more road games on narrower fields as the season progresses. (Subliminal message: wide, wide and wide.)
• Run, Donnie, run: Goalie Donnie Leavitt’s dash in the closing minutes against Summit was not unprecedented, but fun to see. Beau Beckley did it. And it brings up former VMS soccer coach Bob Bandoni pulling Aaron Vandeford in overtime in Battle Mountain’s, 2-1, win at the Vail Mountain School back in 1999.
• Dear Eagle Valley football: You should beat the stuffing out of Moffat County Friday. As you ride the bus up to the delightful berg of Craig, there is no chit-chat about the Broncos. No gabbing about what you’re going to do Saturday night. It is all focusing on your assorted assignments and talking with your teammates about what you can do to beat the Bulldogs. Many a better Eagle Valley football team has gone up there, and simply not gotten off the bus ready to do business. You guys know what happens when you’re not ready. (Subliminal message: Delta.) In the immortal words of Yoda: “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” THEN, we get ready for Glenwood Springs and Homecoming.
• I really haven’t been negligent when it comes to Vail Christian football. The Saints just haven’t played in the last two weeks. The Longmont Christian game was cancelled because of the Front Range flooding. This past week was meant to be South Park, but the Burros dropped football for the year, and so, Vail Christian has had a two-week bye. (Never seen that before, and I missed getting to do my Kenny, Kyle and Cartman jokes.)
The visiting Rams are 4-0, having beaten the stuffing out of Gilpin County, Justice and Plateau Valley. As those who have played “Vail Christian Football: The Home Game” know, that’s not too surprising. Win No. 4 was a 26-6 decision over Hayden. Hmmm. (Subliminal message: Get you game on, Saints.)
• OK, Freud bonked. (Subliminal message: This will happen to all of you kids when you reach your 40s.) I forgot to write up on Tuesday night that Vail Christian volleyball swept West Grand in three. The Saints are 8-3 overall and 3-1 in the 2A Slope. It’s a road weekend coming up — at North Park on Friday and at Plateau Valley on Saturday.
• Off to Pueblo we go: VMS’ Harrison Alonzo, Oliver Pesso and Dylan Hardenbergh, as well as Vail Christian’s Cooper Gould (Mr. Regional Champ.) are off to state early next week. The happy news we’ve saved for last is that the Saints also got the call that Parker Poage (Subliminal message: Call Grandma.) and Tony Clark received the nod as alternates. We also do not forget Eagle Valley’s Tanner Caldarola who is at the 4A tourney. Hit ’em straight, guys.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and firstname.lastname@example.org.