EDWARDS — As Battle Mountain soccer readies for its state quarterfinal match at Air Academy on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the K-Dome in Colorado Springs, it might be time to get out the slingshot.
After all, the Huskies are the underdog — ranked No. 8 — against the No. 1 Kadets. Battle Mountain’s a little school from a mountain town going up against the big school from Colorado Springs.
This would be David vs. Goliath, right?
The Huskies do give Air Academy its due as the consensus No. 1 going into this postseason, but, on the other hand, this is not the olden days of Battle Mountain soccer going to face a No. 1-seeded team. Going back 10 years or so, the Huskies did this regularly, seemingly always drawing Liberty, Broomfield or, yes, Niwot.
Coach David Cope would talk nobly about how the upset could happen — “We have no chance just like Senegal had no chance against France (in the 2002 World Cup),” was one of his better lines. And the Huskies got smacked, 5-0, or by some similar score.
Fast forward 10 years later, and Battle Mountain is no longer just happy to be in the playoffs. The Huskies are a seasoned postseason team.
Experience pays off
“I think institutional experience really pays off,” Cope said Thursday. “You look at kids like Roberto Diaz and the kids in our senior class. They’ve been in 13 playoffs games. That’s almost an extra high school season. That pays dividends because those games come with extra pressure and consequence.”
It’s not just that the Huskies ran the table last year, including beating No. 1 Palmer Ridge in the state-title game. This is the third year in a row Battle Mountain has been one of the last eight teams standing. When this year’s seniors were freshman, they also made the second round.
Battle Mountain has gone on the road and beaten good sides. No one wearing the Huskies crest, now adorned with a championship star, will ever forget last year’s game at No. 3 Evergreen.
Air Academy and Battle Mountain have a common opponent, Montrose. The Huskies beat the Indians, 3-1, at home in the season opener. The Kadets knocked off Montrose, 1-0, in game No. 3 in Colorado Springs. Transitivity does not guarantee a result, but the Huskies should walk onto the grass of the K-Dome — not actually a dome, by the way — on Saturday in awe of the Kadets.
The Kadets advanced to the quarters by thumping No. 32 Harrison, 9-1, before needing a late goal to get by Silver Creek, 1-0. Niwot, the team the Huskies topped in Round 2, beat Silver Creek, 2-1, during Northern League play. We repeat that transitivity does not guarantee a result. But again, the Huskies aren’t playing a team with a keeper who ended up going to Penn State. (That was Liberty in the days of yore.)
Keys to the game
Austin Dewing leads the Kadets with 21 goals and 13 assists, while Alex Granados has found the back of the net 10 times. The Huskies can counter with three players in double-digits in Diaz (18), Brandon Osorio (12) and Alexis Robles (11).
At this point in the season, nothing is really new. Battle Mountain will face a bigger and more physical squad in Air Academy. The Huskies need to possess the ball and knock it around. They need to watch the restarts — set pieces can be killers at this time of year, and their back line and goalie Donnie Leavitt need to be solid.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 and firstname.lastname@example.org.