EDWARDS — Just before kickoff, Battle Mountain soccer returned to its locker room and found its new jerseys.
“We had the star embroidered on the jersey, a la Brazil, having multiple stars and England having one star,” said Huskies coach David Cope, who was born in England in that glorious year of 1966.
“We hadn’t shown the boys the jersey yet. We took them in just before the game and their jerseys were hanging up. We told them that these stars are part of the history of this program, and you guys are the future of this program. Let’s see how we can do.”
Not too bad, apparently. With stars on their chests representing the school’s 4A state title from last season, the Huskies started 2013 in fine style with a 3-1 win over Montrose Saturday afternoon.
“It was really cool to have the star on our chest because a lot of us have worked really hard to get there,” said senior Ryan Wood, who was on the team last season. “For the people who were on the sidelines last year, it means a lot, too. It just shows that our program builds and that everyone’s important.”
Defending State Title
Yes, the Huskies are the defending state champs, ranked No. 1 in the state in 4A and are riding a 21-game winning streak, but Saturday was about a new team figuring out its collective identity.
One of the many new faces was Pedro Hernandez. The senior made his varsity debut Saturday and it was memorable. He scored on a beautiful feed from Brandon Osorio in the 39th minute and had the Huskies’ third from Roberto Diaz.
“It feels great. I don’t really care that I scored today,” Hernandez said. “It could have been anybody. I just wanted to win. I owe it all to my teammates, Cope and my club coach Joel Rabinowitz. I’m just very grateful to have the opportunity.”
While it’s just one game, this is a good sign. The Huskies have a tradition of being able to bring up players from JV and plug them into their varsity lineup. It’s particularly important as Battle Mountain graduated (Joe LyBarger, Heivan Garcia, Gunnar Wilson and David Suarez) or lost to injury (Alex Trujillo) 56 goals in just five players from last season.
Perhaps it is also somewhat comforting to longtime fans of the program that there is a guy named Hernandez scoring goals. Edgar Hernandez, Class of 2006, may not have been the most prolific of goal scorers, but he was the definition of clutch.
Senior Diaz had 15 last season, and he was in on the scoring. His shot in the 52nd minute deflected off a Montrose defender’s hand in the box, giving Battle Mountain a penalty kick.
Osorio did the honors.
“We like penalties, obviously,” joked Cope, referring to the Huskies’ playoff wins on kicks against Evergreen and Palmer Ridge last fall.
With the Huskies up, 3-0, Montrose’s Brian Bond struck in the 61st. Battle Mountain goalie Donnie Leavitt came out for the initial save, but had no chance on Bond’s shot. Otherwise, Leavitt and the Huskies’ revamped defense, with Wood moving from center midfield to center back, passed its first test with flying colors.
“To get the first one under their belts, especially for these boys, is big,” Cope said. “You want them to create their own legacy, and not have some mounting burden. Now that they’ve taken ownership of their season, here we go. Now we move forward.”
Next up is none other than Steamboat Springs on Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Edwards. Battle Mountain’s archrivals won their opener Saturday against Delta, 4-2.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.