EDWARDS — Battle Mountain soccer wins playoff games.
It’s a given, except for the fact it’s not. The Huskies boys soccer team obviously had quite a bit of success last fall in the postseason and a solid record in the years previous.
But, a playoff win had been a long time coming for Battle Mountain girls soccer until Tuesday. The last time the ladies triumphed in a playoff game was, to be exact, May 9, 2007, when the Huskies beat Denver South, 4-0. And so the Huskies whooped it up after dispatching Thomas Jefferson, 3-1, in the first round of the 2013 state tourney.
“We’ve just been focused this last week,” Huskies sophomore Acacia Ortiz said. “All season, we’ve had the playoffs as a goal and been focused on it. So I feel like we’ve been ready for this.”
“It’s great for them to play in front of their classmates and the community,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “We’ve set some goals for this season and they were pretty lofty. One was to win the league, check. One was to win a playoff game, check. So that moves us forward. Now we face a colossal task in front of us, and that’s exciting.”
That colossal task would likely be at No. 4 Valor Christian in Round 2 on Friday, provided that the Eagles took care of business on Tuesday night against No. 29 Skyview.
In a novel concept for the 2013 Huskies (10-2-4), they did not need to come from behind or score a dramatic goal in the waning minutes.
And in what may be an interesting sign — good playoff teams get goals from unexpected sources — the usual suspects, as Claude Raines would say, did not factor in the early scoring. (Rosie Davies, Emily Cope and Morgan Croke had combined for 30 of the team’s 64 regular-season goals.)
After the Huskies had been plastering the net with shots, Keelin Robinson finally broke through, on a nifty feed from Julia Mills, in the 28th minute.
“It was Julia on the line and she crossed it back, and I hit it right into the corner,” Robinson said. “It was really exciting, especially because it was our first playoff game and everyone was nervous. It was good to get it in and get our goal-scoring started.”
Minutes later, Alexis Nibbelink scored just her second of the year. Molly Phannenstiel got the assist on that one.
After Thomas Jefferson’s Elaine Laine scored early in the second half, Melisa Lopez restored order with a tally, giving the Huskies a 3-1 lead.
“It’s great to see some different people score because we may need that,” Cope said. “Melisa had the winning goal in the league final against Palisade (last week), so she’s kind of on a little bit of a tear. And we needed a little energy in the first half, so Keelin and Julia Mills came on and really provided that.”
The Huskies could have had more on the board had it not been for Thomas Jefferson goalie Makayla Veasly, who was spectacular.
Battle Mountain’s fans enjoyed the show. School let out early for the game, and the stands were packed.
“It was awesome,” Ortiz said. “A huge thanks to all the students and parents who were here because it means a lot. It’s really helpful when we have people out here who are here to support us.”
The last time the Huskies won on the playoffs, their home pitch was across the street from the new campus at Freedom Park. Julia Burnett had two goals, while Kelsey Sanders and Lizzie Seibert also scored. Goalie Kori Landauer had the shutout over Denver East.
Huskies boys lax falls in playoffs
As the weather turned, so did Battle Mountain’s playoff fortunes.
In the nightcap of a playoff doubleheader Tuesday in Edwards, No. 10 Ponderosa eliminated No. 7 Battle Mountain, 8-5, from the first round of the 4A state boys lacrosse tournament on a gray and rainy evening.
Ponderosa dominated the first half building a 4-0 lead with two goals from Blake Bruner, and one each from Shane Hester and Brian LaPorta. The Huskies rallied gamely, but could not overcome that initial deficit.
“Yeah, but we came back from that hole, so I can’t really pin it on that,” Huskies coach Jerry Nichols said. “Should we have given up four goals in the first quarter? No. Jitters, a little on edge, call it what you will, but we shouldn’t have given up four goals in the first quarter. But the boys showed great heart against a really good team, making it a game of it.”
Cooper Cartmill gave the Huskies a little bit of a lift with 3:36 left in the half, scoring on a pass from Clayton Davis. Huskies keeper Zach Trombetta, playing with a broken thumb, also made a juggling save in front of his net in the waning seconds of the half.
The Huskies got it going in the second half with a beautiful transition goal, started by Rio Garton. The midfielder blistered down the center of the field, hit Davis, who in turn found Karl Norris, who ripped his shot into the net,
By the time Mike Lange scored, the Huskies pulled to within 4-3.
The Huskies took a penalty late in the third quarter, and Bruner capitalized on it for his hat trick and the visiting Mustangs were leading, 5-3, with 1:35 left in the period.
Turnabout, however, was fair play. Ponderosa got whistled for cross checking, and Cartmill from Davis made it 5-4.
The Huskies pressured the Ponderosa end for most of the first half of the fourth quarter, but couldn’t find an opening. Eventually, the Huskies made the understandable decision to press forward offensively. Ponderosa countered with Derek Mango scoring with 6:07 left in the game, followed by Bruner’s fourth 90 seconds later.
There was no quit in Battle Mountain. The Huskies’ Mike Lange scored to close the gap to 7-5.
In the final two minutes, Battle Mountain pulled Trombetta for an extra attacker, but Mango got an empty-netter.
Despite a difficult ending, the Huskies (12-4) had a great season.
“It’s a great group of kids,” Nichols said. “It’s the first time we’ve made the playoffs. I’m super-proud of them. Our expectation from here on out is playoffs. That’s it. Coach Cope’s done that very successfully with soccer, and that’s a tradition I’ve always respected him for. The state’s looking at us and Battle Mountain as a for real team now.”