Lewis-Palmer knocks off No. 1 Battle Mountain soccer
Rangers upset Huskies
EDWARDS — The clank of the crossbar will echo through the winter for No. 1-ranked Battle Mountain soccer.
Huskies soccer’s season came to a shocking and abrupt end with a 3-1 loss to No. 8 Lewis-Palmer in the state quarterfinals on an unseasonably warm Saturday in Edwards.
Battle Mountain’s dream season ends at 16-1-1, while the victorious Rangers will take on Air Academy on Wednesday in the semifinals.
As senior superstar Dani Barajas said afterward, “We lost only one game this year.”
And with that single loss, the team is done for the season. After the final whistle, the squad walked arm in arm to thank the fans. There were tears, slumped shoulders and sullen looks, as expected, in the locker room as coach David Cope recognized each of his seniors without breaking down, always a tough task.
“I think when you set the bar as high as we do, you operate without a safety net.,” Cope said. “It becomes difficult because when you lose, it has that much more magnitude. … This group is certainly good enough to go on. If we play this game tomorrow or play a seven-game series, you like your chances. But in a single-elimination knockout tournament, those are the kind of things that can happen.”
Get one, get two?
Down 2-0 at the half, Battle Mountain felt that if it could get on the board, the comeback would follow.
In the 69th minute, Barajas caught Rangers goalie Aiden McGonagle wandering too far out, and chipped his shot over him. The shot worked its way through the box and into the net, and Battle Mountain was in business.
Just minutes later, the Huskies had an indirect kick at the top of the box and Barajas cracked it off the crossbar.
Trevino Twiss had two chances, one wide right and the other blocked, but the crossbar will be the woulda, coulda shoulda moment.
“If that would have went in, that would have changed the outcome of the game,” Barajas said. “It was unlucky.”
“I just thought we saw a ton of class and kept battling to the end,” Cope said. “That’s what we pride ourselves in. That’s the name of our school and I thought once we got one, we would definitely have a chance for another one. And we did and it hit the crossbar. It’s just amazing.”
Lewis-Palmer (15-3) got on the board with a well-executed set piece as Cole Mooney headed in a beautiful service from Tyler Prichard.
The Rangers’ Ethan Mann made it 2-0 late in the first half. After Barajas’crossbar, with everyone in Battle Mountain black pressing forward, Lewis-Palmer’s T.J. Wright finished it with 50 seconds left in regulation.
With every other program at any school in the county, a 16-1-1 season is a spectacular one. During the team’s seniors’ four-year tenure, Battle Mountain boys’ soccer was 59-10-2.
The challenge of the next few days, weeks and months is figuring out how to balance what are rightly high standards while at the same time recognizing that one loss does not define a season.
“I think how we played on the field wasn’t reflected on the scoreboard,” senior defender Harrison Rubis said. “I just think we played well all the way.
“I’ll never forget any of these boys. I’ve been playing with them since elementary school.”
The team went out for pizza after the game, because as we all know, pizza is a panacea for the souls of teenagers.
“I just want to thank the boys, everything they did for me,” Barajas said. “I’m proud of being a part of this program. This is going to be successful, no matter what. Thank you for everything.”
Yet this will still sting for a while.
“We set a high standard, especially from July with the optional workouts to (Denver University) team camp to the preseason, and the boys played at such a high level,” Cope said. “That’s what I’ll always remember from this season, that we got the No. 1 seed and we held it for three games. A lot of years, as we know, the No. 1 seed doesn’t win it. So does that mean we’ll shy away from it in the future? Hell no.”