No. 5 Battle Mountain falls to no. 28 Kennedy in opening of Colorado Class 4A soccer playoffs
EDWARDS — The No. 5 seeded Battle Mountain Huskies had high hopes for the playoffs, coming in with a 13-1-1 record and outscoring opponents during the regular season 71-16.
But No. 28 Kennedy showed up ready and disciplined on Wednesday night, Oct. 24, as the Commanders upset the Huskies, 5-0, in the opening round of Class 4A state playoffs behind a first half hat trick by Aymaro Vargas.
“I think we should be really proud of everything the boys accomplished,” an emotional coach David Cope said on the field after the game. “It’s really hard I think for the boys to take. You look at the bracket and work so hard to get a good seed, but sometimes those things don’t come true.”
The Huskies celebrate a successful regular season, which featured a comeback win against Glenwood Springs, two wins against Steamboat Springs and the first school win against The Classical Academy, as well as two wins against local rival Eagle Valley.
The only loss leading up to the playoffs was a 3-2 double overtime loss at Durango in the second week of the season.
“We’re really proud of them. This group achieved a lot,” Cope said. “I mean, we lost one game in August and one game in October — that’s it. It’s just rough.”
Behind the seed
Kennedy entered the playoffs after a wacky season. Coach Katherine Ingui said the team lost games they thought they’d win and won some they thought they’d lost. The team has been plagued with ineligibilities this season and were finally able to practice with its starting 11 for the first time in a while — a lineup featuring 10 seniors and one freshman.
“Coming into this playoff game we were thankful to make the playoffs,” Ingui said. “The 28 seed is not an easy one to take compared to last year’s second seed.”
Vargas, the Commander with three goals in the first half, hadn’t played in two games.
“He came back ready to go,” Ingui said. “He has a lot of college opportunities so he was ready to play.”
The Commanders will play the winner of No. 12 Lewis-Palmer and No. 21 Thomas Jefferson in the second round.
Start to finish
From start to finish on Wednesday night, the Huskies never seemed to connect the dots. The Commanders were bigger, organized and composed.
Heading into the game, Dani Barajas needed one goal to set the Battle Mountain school scoring record, sitting at 24.
“Looking at their stats before the game we knew we were going to have to be aware of No. 21, knowing that he was going to be very talented,” the Kennedy coach said.
Jackson Borg, Drew Keiser, Jered Vargas and the rest of the Huskies seniors embraced each other after the game, an emotional way to an end a high school career.
“We’re proud of the boys and we wish the seniors all the best. They’ve had great careers,” Cope said. “It’s just a sad way to end it.”
Battle Mountain’s last first-round exit from the playoffs at home was in 2009 against Evergreen.
Assistant editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.