At long last: Battle Mountain soccer beats The Classical Academy, 2-0
EDWARDS — Down goes TCA. Down goes TCA. Down goes TCA.
Yes, it is somewhat akin to George Foreman knocking out Joe Frazier as Battle Mountain soccer finally knocked off The Classical Academy, 2-0, on Saturday, Sept. 15.
For all the success the Huskies have had during the last four years — four more state playoff appearances, three consecutive 4A Slope titles and the run to the 2016 state-title game — the Titans have been to Battle Mountain as Moby Dick to Ahab.
Except for the small part that on Saturday the captain of the Pequod got his prey.
“Really cool,” said Dani Barajas, who had both of the Huskies goals with emphatic points for style. “We hadn’t beaten TCA in four years, and we just did. We feel great. It means a lot to me.”
It was personal for Barajas and a lot of the upperclassman for Battle Mountain on Saturday. Not only had TCA knocked off the Huskies in each of the last four regular seasons, but the Titans whacked Battle Mountain, 7-1, at 2016 4A state-title game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park.
“That’s a great win for the boys,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “We have a lot of respect for (coach) Blake (Galvin) and TCA. To be honest, our team follows them all year. We’ll be on a bus coming back from Rifle and the boys will be yelling out the TCA score.”
Saturday’s game brought back recent alumni like Jesus Dozal, Alan Villegas and Mauricio Castillo, not to mention members of the 2012 state championship Battle Mountain team in Christian Espinoza, Heivan Garcia, Erick Briones and some guy professing to be Gunnar Wilson.
As much as this year’s edition wanted and needed to beat TCA, the 2012 state champs know about chasing down that elusive win. In their case, it was Evergreen.
Like a block
The first important factor in downing the Titans was keeping them off the scoreboard. Not only had TCA won the five meetings between the two schools, but the Titans had outscored the Huskies, 22-3, in those games.
While Barajas will get his due, Battle Mountain finally won, thanks to its defense.
Jackson Borg becomes the answer to a trivia question, “Who was the first goalie to blank TCA?” Of course, it was team effort, but Borg distributed the ball well and had a good sense of when to start a buildup from the back and when it was prudent to punt the ball.
Louis Castillo, Quinn Connell, Drew Keiser, Hidalgo Ortega, Alexis Perez and Trevin Twiss were the block of six in front of Borg in various capacities throughout the night.
“We’re always covering each other,” Perez said. “So if somebody goes up, somebody drops back. Somebody opens up, and somebody drops in. We cover each other and we were there for each other.”
Battle Mountain’s defense navigated the surges from the Titans during the beginning of each half, and held on as TCA sent just about everyone forward during the waning minutes.
“It’s a block of six and they’re organizing themselves,” Cope said. “If those six give us a solid, defensive base, the guys up front can do their thing.”
While comparisons between 2018 and 2012 are fundamentally unfair to the current team, Barajas scored some goals on Saturday that can remind fans of Garcia back in the day. (No. 30’s two goals against Cheyenne Mountain in 2011 come to mind.)
In the 13th minute, Twiss sent in a beauty of a corner kick, and Barajas headed the ball on the frame. The Titans’ keeper was able to deflect the ball off the crossbar.
But Barajas followed his own shot and deposited the rebound into the net for a 1-0 lead.
The real Garcia-like goal was when Barajas found some space off the ball and one-timed an Ortega feed into the top shelf of the netting during the final minute of the first half.
“Today’s finishes were quality,” Cope said.
If Saturday’s game was big, well, here comes “The Biggest Game in the History of Everything … until The Next One,” as Steamboat Springs comes to town on Tuesday, Sept. 18. (If you have an old schedule, this game is in Edwards at 6 p.m., because the Huskies and Sailors swapped home dates as Gardner Field up north is being renovated.)
The Huskies enter at 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the Slope, while the Sailors are 5-0 and 4-0. Steamboat’s nonconference win was 3-2 victory over perennial 4A power Centaurus, so the league is representing itself well.
“We always have respect for Steamboat,” Cope said. “The last time we played them, they beat us up there. We know they beat Centaurus. I don’t think anyone in our group will be taking Steamboat lightly.”
“Celebrate today and tomorrow is another day,” Barajas said.