Battle Mountain defeats Centaurus to advance to 4A state title game
After dominant 3-1 win, the Huskies will look to avenge 2022 title game loss on Saturday in Colorado Springs
The Huskies are back in the state title game.
“I’m excited and I hope we can make up for what happened last year,” said midfielder Jakob Methvin after No. 3-seeded Battle Mountain (17-1-1) handed No. 2 Centaurus its first loss of the year in a 3-1 victory Wednesday night at Jeffco Trailblazer Stadium in Lakewood.
“We weathered some moments of adversity there,” head coach Dave Cope said. “Just couldn’t be prouder of the group.”
Behind Alexis Dozal’s first-half goal — plus two in the second from Methvin — Cope’s crew advanced to face the winner of the second 4A semifinal of the evening — No. 1 Northfield and No. 12 Regis Groff — next Saturday at 3 p.m. at Switchbacks Weidner Field in Colorado Springs. Northfield defeated Battle Mountain 3-0 in the 2022 state title game, but that Husky squad had a bit more Cinderella story to them than this one.
“We were operating without a safety net in a sense, because anything short of getting back to the final was going to be perceived as perhaps underachieving because we were bringing back such a strong, quality group,” Cope said. “So, that puts a fair degree of pressure on all season, but the group lived up to it. They stuck together.”
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Dozal — who delivered the game-winner in Battle Mountain’s 1-0 overtime win over Mullen in last year’s state semifinal — put the Huskies on the board with 11 minutes to go in the first half.
“We always say that big players come big in big moments,” Cope said of the senior’s penchant for clutch performances.
“Centaurus had come out and played really well, and the first 10-15 minutes, we were under a lot of pressure. We started to get some chances and break forward — mainly through Dozal — and then, they just made a mistake in the back and he capitalized on it.”
Centaurus kept Battle Mountain goalie Ezequiel Alvarez on his toes right from the start of the second half as well. Sixty seconds in, the junior keeper sprinted out to arrest a through-ball right at the box, preserving the shutout. In the 44th minute, Warrior’s captain Demitri Wiegand had a free kick from the 30-yard line, and his teammate’s subsequent header whistled a few inches above the cross bar.
It was two minutes prior to those opportunities that Methvin gave Battle Mountain some breathing room. The sophomore received a midfield pass in-stride, cut toward the center and fired a shot, which deflected off a Warrior and over the defense’s diving keeper for the 2-0 lead.
The Huskies stayed on the attack, with Methvin breaking away and dishing to Skidmore along the left wing during the 51st minute. Skidmore’s shot went wide into the outside of the netting. With its season slipping away as the clock dipped under 15 minutes, Centaurus applied additional pressure at midfield. The Huskies countered with more offense.
“We talked at halftime about going and getting a second goal and a third,” Cope said of the pedal-to-the-metal mentality. “We were really proud of the boys for doing that, because the mentality was not hang onto what we have, it was, ‘let’s go get more.'”
With 6:05 to go, Methvin did just that, providing Battle Mountain with the 3-0 insurance goal. After he watched his 23rd score of the season tickle the twine, he ripped off his jersey and ran to the Husky bench. The yellow card was a small price to pay for tickets to a second-straight state title game.
“Anytime somebody wants to come and celebrate with his boys on the side, we’re all for it,” Cope said. “He also knows, he can’t take that yellow with 30 minutes left.”
Alvarez was not meant to secure his third shutout of these playoffs, though, as Wiegand capitalized on a penalty kick with 20 seconds to go. The small blemish failed to mask the Huskies’ superiority.
“It doesn’t take away from what I thought was a comprehensive performance on both ends of the field,” Cope said of the game’s final goal. “Big shoutout to the back four.”
“The first half was strong and the second-half was very dominant,” Methvin added. “I’m very glad with the pressure we pushed with in the second half and the result we came out with.”
Battle Mountain, which won the 2012 title before losing in 2016 and 2022, will travel to Colorado Springs for another shot at a state championship at 3 p.m. Saturday.
“There was a time when I thought we’d never get to one. So, very humbling to get a fourth,” Cope said, adding that he could feel the community support flowing from the viewing party at the Riverwalk Theatre in Edwards.
If the Huskies get another shot at the Nighthawks, who are 35-1-1 in the last two seasons, Methvin said his team will be ready.
“If anything, I think it will make us more motivated for the game,” he said. “We’ll have more passion behind every tackle and every play.”