Aparicio, Banner, head up Huskies soccer all-league team
At the beginning of the year, Battle Mountain boys soccer coach David Cope didn’t know what he had on his hands.
What he had was one of the better Huskies teams in recent memory. Battle Mountain beat Steamboat for the first time since 1992 and hosted – and won – a postseason game for the first time since that same year.
By going 8-4 in the deep 4A Slope, the coaches of the league acknowledged that fact by voting four Huskies to the all-league team.
Antonio Aparicio and Andy Banner were named first team, while Julio Garcia and Harrison Brown took home honorable-mention honors.
Aparicio was a no-brainer with seven goals and six assists. Three times, he had the game-winning goal or scored the first goal of the game. He also had an equalizer.
But, what was more evident to the coaches of the Slope was his natural talent and sense for the game on the field.
“It’s just the intuition he has for the game,” Cope said. “He’s one of the players that the other team is going to notice, and they’re bound to vote for him. The other thing about Antonio is that he recognized that, late in game, he would know when to drop back into defense when we had a lead. Even when he didn’t score a goal, he did that and a lot of times that was the difference. That’s so key for a striker.”
Banner led the team in goals and points – 12 goals and seven assists – so, it’s no surprise the junior joins Aparicio on the first team. He had hat tricks against Palisade and Glenwood.
But, perhaps, his finest moment came against Steamboat in a 2-0 win when he didn’t score a goal. He played an unselfish ball to Connor Drumm, which led to a goal and, then. he assisted teammate, Dane Jacobs, on a corner kick for the second score.
“He’s a strong athletic kid, who was willing to play a number of positions,” Cope said. “He played up front, in the middle and defended. He scored some great goals, especially when he hooked up with Julio. When we moved Julio to left midfield and put Andy at right mid, that’s when we started to gel as a team.”
Speaking of Garcia, a case could definitely be made for him to be first team. Garcia was a consummate playmaker for the Huskies with one goal and seven assists.
“For two years now, he’s been the most exciting player on our team,” Cope said. “Our game is based on getting the ball to Julio. He could consistently beat players and serve the ball well. The thing people don’t recognize about him is how well he defends. There were so many times we had just three players in back because Julio would just jump in there as a defender.”
There are only 11 positions on the soccer field, but it seemed like Brown played 18 different ones. Brown showed his scoring touch up front with four goals. He played midfield often and also was a stabilizing force on the back line.
“He played everywhere. Teams were always taking note of where “that big kid’ was playing and sometimes we didn’t even know,” Cope joked. “Some games, I would say sorry to him for not playing him up front, and he would say, “Sometimes, I have my defensive days and, sometimes, I have offensive days.'”
Garcia graduates in May, but the Huskies return Aparicio, Banner and Brown along with a strong crew of players. So, though the 2003 season just ended, Cope is excited for 2004.
“You add these guys to a nice group of guys like Connor Drumm, Dane Jacobs, Tyler Cole and Kyle Moore and others – too many to mention – and it’s a great group of players,” Cope said. “We’re going to have a lot of players competing for playing time next year and there are going to be high expectations for how they do.”
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at email@example.com.