Spring prep previews: Battle Mountain girls soccer brings back hungry senior class | VailDaily.com

Spring prep previews: Battle Mountain girls soccer brings back hungry senior class

Huskies went 7-3 to finish second in the 4A Western Slope last seasons

Battle Mountain’s Cassie Ledezma (right) fights for the ball against Vail Mountain’s Ellie Campbell last season.
Rex Keep/Courtesy photo

The seniors on the Battle Mountain girls soccer team had their freshmen season canceled due to COVID, finished fourth in the league in 2021 and then were runners-up last season. Now, it’s their time.

“For this group it is time to ‘reap what we have sown,'” said head coach Dave Cope when asked what the theme going into 2023 was. “We have a senior class that has paid their dues.”

Four seniors graduated from a team that went 7-9 on the year and 7-3 in the league, good for second in the 4A Western Slope behind Steamboat Springs (14-3 overall, 9-0 league). The defensive leadership of graduate Liz Keiser might be missed the most.

“We had a great class last year, led by Liz Keiser,” Cope said. “She set a standard of competitiveness and versatility that runs through her family. I coached three Keiser kids and am a better man for having done so.”

Coming back for their final hurrah are the Huskies’ two leading scorers in Cassie Ledezma, who notched eight goals last season, and Fiona Lloyd (five).

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“She is physically dominant and willing to work hard,” Cope said of Ledezma, whom he expects to possibly reach double-digits in goals this season. “And Fiona exudes athleticism.” The coach also noted the vital return of skilled playmaking senior midfielder Monica Duran, the team’s assist leader last season. Still, Battle Mountain won’t be totally an upperclassmen-led squad.

Battle Mountain had three first team all-conference selections for the 2022 season, including Cassie Ledezma (second from right) and Liz Keiser (No. 11).
Rex Keep/Courtesy photo

“We have some freshmen and sophomores that we are excited about,” Cope continued.

Sophomore Elle Glendinning returns after playing all but 10 minutes at the goalie position during her freshman season, when she boasted a 1.73 goals against average. Thea Armistead is expected to contribute right away as a freshmen and Viri Herrera is back for her sophomore season after missing all of last year with an ACL injury.

“We will ease her back into it as the season goes on,” Cope said.

The Huskies open their season at home on March 14 against Glenwood Springs before embarking on a string of non-league matchups at Denver East (March 16), Grand Junction (March 18) and Evergreen (March 30). They also have Atlas Preparatory School and The Classical Academy, which was 11-5-1 last year, on the schedule.

“We have a challenging schedule with several quality opponents,” commented Cope, who noted that at his team meetings last week, athletes were open about their goal of winning the league and advancing in the playoffs. “Let’s not hide from it!” he stated.

He expects the Eagle Valley rivalry game to be extra spicy after splitting with the resurgent Devils last season. At the top is Steamboat Springs, which went all the way to the state quarterfinals before falling to No. 3 Durango. In CHSAANow.com’s 4A preseason poll, the Sailors are slotted at No. 6 in the state.

“Steamboat won our league and we were competitive in our second match with them,” he continued in his league-wide assessment, “but we have another level to find if we are going to win this league.”

As far as his expectations for the group, the veteran coach said, “We have a large and competitive group,” adding that he expects to balance the necessary internal competition with “kindness and camaraderie.”

“This is a wonderful group to be around,” he said. “They are kind, humble and grateful.”

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