Freud: Battle Mountain soccer off to a nice start, but it’s only a start (column)
September 19, 2018
These are pretty heady days for Battle Mountain soccer.
In the last five days, the Huskies have beaten The Classical Academy and Steamboat Springs. The team is 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the 4A Slope. And not that anyone would be looking obsessively, but the Huskies are No. 5 in the rating-percentage index.
Before we just plan on being at Dick's Sporting Goods Park for the state-title game on Nov. 10, let's slow our roll.
Beating TCA was climbing a mountain after four years and five losses. Knocking off Steamboat in dominating fashion is noteworthy.
There's no doubt that Battle Mountain has a really good soccer team. The bigger question is how good?
Are we talking "winning the Slope" good? The Huskies are the favorites to win their 12th league title in 15 years. Are we talking "advancing to the Elite Eight" good? That's where the RPI has Battle Mountain.
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Or are we talking "winning the whole thing" good?
There are very fine lines among these levels of good. The difference between being an Elite Eight squad and going down to the big stadium in Denver is a lot of work and even a little bit of luck. Before Miles Joerz and the Huskies of 2016 went to the state final, Joerz "scored" an own goal during the 2015 quarterfinals as the Huskies lost to Standley Lake, 3-1.
Back in 2012, goalie Christian Espinoza stood on his head during playoff shootouts, most notably the quarterfinals at Evergreen. He's the best goalie the program has had, but stopping P.K.'s requires a bit of fortune.
I'm a firm believer that teams do make their luck through hard work. And that is the challenge to Battle Mountain soccer.
Confidence is fine — this team should be confident. Big aspirations are OK, too — this program has established a standard, and the bar is higher when it comes to soccer at this school, cross-country excepted.
But to validate the confidence and high aspirations, we need to see more work from this team. Glenwood Springs comes to town on Thursday, Sept. 20, and we can't see a letdown. After that, the Huskies have 11 days off until kicking off the stretch drive of league play at Summit County.
Again, please don't forget to beat the Demons, but can the Huskies raise their play during those 11 days of practice? If you're going where I think you want to go, it's not about measuring yourself against the competition. It's about holding yourself to a higher standard.
When Huskies soccer does this, then we can start talking about November dreams.
In the notebook
• So anyone know if there's a volleyball game on Thursday? Yep, Eagle Valley at Battle Mountain. For two teams that are a combined 13-3 so far this season, both face some questions.
Eagle Valley needs to steady the ship after losing two starters to injuries. In fairness, the Devils have won their last two, albeit going to five sets in both. While five-gamers may drive coach Jackie Rindy to the loony bin, the Devils are holding their own. Can they develop some cohesion?
Meanwhile, Battle Mountain needs a signature win. You've got to go back to 2015 for the last time, the Huskies beat either Eagle Valley of Palisade.
• Both Battle Mountain (3-1) and Eagle Valley (2-1) football have winning records. Huskies, please take your opponent seriously this week. Last week was much better on the intensity-o-meter. No repeat of Basalt … ever.
Meanwhile, Eagle Valley has fallen behind in every game so far this season. The resiliency to come back is nice, but scoring first would provide some appreciated variety.
• Intriguing game of the weekend? Vail Mountain School soccer hosts Colorado Academy. For a team whose defense started the season in disarray, the Gore Rangers are racking up some wins and are fifth in the RPI in 3A. CA is always a measuring stick game.
See you all at the games this weekend.