EDWARDS — Battle Mountain soccer’s winning streak lives ... barely. Just barely. Ever-so barely.
In the latest “instant classic” of the Battle Mountain-Steamboat Springs soccer rivalry, the Huskies’ Kevan Aubel scored with 8:29 left in double-overtime on a penalty kick to lift his team over the Sailors, 5-4, in Edwards on Tuesday night. The Huskies had trailed 3-1 with 13 minutes left in regulation and were down 4-3 with 30 ticks remaining in the second half.
“Omigosh, that was ridiculous,” Aubel said after getting happily pounded by all those clad in Huskies’ white. “We came back, what? Three or four times? I have to just thank my teammates. We just ran as fast as we could and hustled as hard as we could. I don’t know what else to say.”
One can start with the fact that the Sailors (1-1 overall and 0-1 in the 4A Slope) played a tremendous game against their archrivals, and probably thought that they had this one in the bag. (Huskies fans were a bit dour after Sailors junior Hector Lopez gave Steamboat a 3-1 lead in the 67th minute.)
Aubel did mention that the Huskies (2-0, 1-0) showed a ton of heart to come back for their 22nd win a row.
“I had all these scenarios on pieces of paper — up one goal, down a goal, overtime,” Battle Mountain coach David Cope said. “But I didn’t have the scenario written for down a goal with less than a minute to go.”
And it might be worth mentioning that these two teams meet on Oct. 3 for Round 2 up in Steamboat.
“That’s competitive sports,” Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann said. “That’s what makes you stronger. You come away from a game like that ... we had our opportunities and Battle Mountain was able to come back, and then we lose it in the second overtime. We’ll definitely grow from this as a team.”
Done like dinner
Battle Mountain’s Alexis Robles and Steamboat’s Grant Verploeg traded goals in what was, in retrospect, a rather placid first half. The Sailors did a very nice job of imposing their tempo on the game, upping it from their opener, a 4-2 win against Delta, yet, at the same time, slowing down the Huskies.
The Sailors had the Huskies frustrated and, more importantly, broke through with a Carter Kounovsky goal, assisted by Peter White, in the 65th minute. White was a thorn in Battle Mountain’s side all game with a goal and two assists.
Two minutes later, White to Lopez gave the Sailors a seemingly-insurmountable 3-1 lead.
But before anyone involved could get settled down, Battle Mountain senior Roberto Diaz charged up the field and lofted a shot over Sailors goalie Jake Andersen. Diaz ran right back into the net to retrieve the ball because the Huskies had new life.
“I thought the Diaz goal was so important,” Cope said. “We go down, 3-1, and for him to immediately take hold of the ball and turn it around showed that he wasn’t going to give up and then nobody else on the field was going to give up.”
Battle Mountain freshman Jesus Romero obviously took a cue from that. He went into the box from the right side and was taken down just a minute later. Huskies senior Brandon Osorio took the penalty kick and it was all knotted, 3-3, with both teams combining to score four goals in a three-minute span.
To its credit, Steamboat just picked up where it left off, methodically working the ball. In the 72nd minute, White and Kounovsky played a little give-and-go with the former scoring. After weathering an onslaught, the Sailors had a 4-3 lead.
As Cope often does, he threw everyone forward. With the clock ticking down, Steamboat did try to slow things down but could not play to the corners, and that gave the Huskies one last chance.
Sophomore Aaron Milligan took a Diaz pass and pushed it through with 30 seconds left in regulation, setting up a possible 20 minutes of overtime.
In a 5-4 game, goalies usually don’t get any credit. Both Steamboat’s Andersen and Battle Mountain’s Donnie Leavitt earned their keep in the first 10-minute frame. (And, yes, that’s a CHSAA rule change — two 10-minute overtimes, up from five, with the golden goal.)
Andersen stoned Diaz early in the first frame. Diaz had an open net, and Andersen made a sprawling save to keep it tied. Down on the other end, Steamboat’s Peter White had a breakaway. He steered his shot toward the left corner, but Leavitt somehow flicked it over the bar.
Ninety seconds into the second frame, Aubel went down in the box, and the referees awarded a penalty kick. Bohlmann was gracious after the game.
“The referee made the call, and you’ve got to go with it,” the coach said.
Meanwhile, Aubel, who is Kaubel to his friends because his older brother Bryan, now a Huskies soccer alumnus, got his name shortened to Braubel, was trying to avoid a heart attack as he got the P.K.
“I just saw that ball, so I ran in to grab it,” Aubel said. “I decided to take a touch down the line. I just got taken down. I was trying to slot it back. That’s what Cope is always talking to us about. I was just glad we got a good call.
My head was going crazy. I was just going to sit there and be as silent as I could, slow down my heart rate and pick the corner with the shot.”
Aubel converted, and the Huskies celebrated like they had won the state championship, which they actually did last November.
Both teams will likely go through light practices today because they both play Thursday. The Huskies are at Palisade and that game is at Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction at 7:30 p.m. The Sailors host Eagle Valley at 6 p.m.