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Back to back to back for Huskies

BMS Jose Pavon PU 10-14-06
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GLENWOOD SPRINGS – It’s been fun for Battle Mountain boys’ soccer to clinch league titles at home the last two years. But there was no better place to make the three-peat official than at Stubler Memorial Field in Glenwood Springs. This is where Battle Mountain coach David Cope’s team lost, 9-0, to the Demons in his first season in 1993. This is where the Huskies rallied with only nine men on the field to win in 1999. This is where Cope ran afoul of CHSAA’s rules in 2003, picking up a controversial suspension.After Saturday’s renewal of their rivalry with Glenwood, Stubler Memorial Field is where the Huskies wrapped up their third consecutive 4A Slope title, downing the Demons, 2-1, on an Alberto Hernandez goal in the 72nd minute.”I think it’s better to clinch it here,” Hernandez said. “They were the second-best team, and they thought they were going to beat us after they tied us. They got a lot of pressure and we put them down.””We’ve had a lot of moments here,” Cope said. “The (alumni) that were here from last year know that – last year, the thunderstorm, the red cards. The girls have done it here coming from 3-1 down and got out of here 3-3. We said on the bus, ‘There’s no place other than at home that we’d rather clinch than on this field.'”And the Huskies danced on Glenwood turf with glee, singing, dousing Cope with a bucket of water and then sharing the celebration via cell phone with fullback Tony Seibert, who was already back in Vail, tending to a left knee injury incurred in the first half.

Battle Mountain’s titles of the last two years were a tangible presence with alumni Everado Gonzales, Tyler Cole, Kyle Moore and Dane Jacobs watching from the rain-soaked stands. But with the win, this year’s edition carved out its own niche in the school’s soccer history. This year’s team did not have the pedigree of defending champions, and likely wasn’t as talented as previous editions. But this group of Huskies received its chance and seized it.”It feels like I had to earn it,” said goalie D.J. Van Curan, who could have easily been speaking for most of the team. “I could have sat around for another year and just let everyone else get it. I actually had to play this year. Coming out and being able to do it on our own terms with a new team is just amazing. It’s becoming more of a legacy. Cope’s building a program.””For me, it’s like my first championship,” said Jose Pavon, who saw considerable playing time on last year’s championship team. “We took it together. It’s not like it was the older guys. You’ve got younger players on the team. It wasn’t the older guys carrying us. It feels good.”For Cope, it likely was one of his proudest moments. The normally laid-back coach had a double-fist pump going when Hernandez scored and threw his Togo World Cup hat into the air after the whistle blew.”The nature of high school sports is that every year you’re replacing a irreplaceable player, and every year someone rises to the fore and steps into that slot,” he said. “I don’t know if the guys like Gus (Everly) and Dylan (Hall) thought they were going to be here a yearago. They’ve had great seasons. Guys like (Mike Scigliano), and Erik (Garcia) and (Chris Woodruff) have been paying their dues.”For Battle Mountain boys’ soccer, it was their fifth league title (1991-92 and 2004-06), or as Van Curan aptly put it, “New team, same title.”

On a dreary, wet day, Pavon gave the Huskies reason for optimism early with a goal in the fourth minute.”It’s very important because if you go down early, you start to feel that it’s not (at) home, and you may not come back,” Pavon said. “I guess it’s pretty good I was able to get one early.”Nothing ever seems to come easily to Battle Mountain in Glenwood, and Saturday was no exception. Fabian Tapia put up the equalizer in the 58th minute, and the Huskies were possibly looking at the end of their three-peat hopes.At halftime, Cope had emphasized three points – stick together as a team, don’t touch anyone in the defensive box and take chances offensively. The last point was especially important given the field conditions. Glenwood football had played at Stubler the night before and the ever-increasing rain was making it more difficult for both goalies to hang onto the ball. It’s cliché, but put the ball on the frame, and a funny thing can happen.It did, and appropriately enough it came from a guy wearing No. 13 whose last name was Hernandez. While he’s not related to Edgar Hernandez, who defined clutch for the Huskies the last two years, Alberto Hernandez delivered the biggest goal of the season.

A beautiful run from Rudy Solis and Jair Molina gave the Huskies a corner kick and Battle Mountain capitalized. The kick rattled around in the box and out to Hernandez. The senior ripped his shot and it somehow found an opening underneath Glenwood goalie Tim Cashell.”Someone headed the ball, and it headed it back to me, so I I just picked it up at the 18 and took a shot,” Hernandez said. “It just went through everybody. A goal’s a goal.””We trained it yesterday,” Cope said. “If you knock a ball though a crowded penalty area, it can do anything.”

Van Curan had been steady all season, coming up with the big save at different moments during the year. Saturday, he pulled out all the stops.”How great for D.J. to play what was likely his finest game as a high school goalkeeper today of all days,” Cope said. “D.J.’s been a loyal backup for three years, and today he’s making saves that win us a league title.”Van Curan had no chance on Tapia’s score. He made two brilliant saves during that same sequence. Van Curan’s job became more difficult when Seibert went down near the end of the first half with a left knee injury.Cope has often said that Seibert is the best player in the Slope, and now the Huskies were without him.”Tony’s our defensive anchor. Without him, you would think the ship would sail away,” Van Curan said. “We put Alberto back and Thoph (Woodruff) back. We had to step up. Connor (Tedstrom) stepped on and did an awesome job. For a freshman, he was absolutely tearing it up there. Connor had the heart. Tony’s our heart, and when we saw him go down, we knew we were going to have step it up.”And just as the Huskies overcame adversity in the form of an 0-1-1 start to the season, they overcame Seibert’s loss and rallied for the win and another title.”It was a great moment,” Cope said. “It was almost better that they tied it up and we had to pull it out because that’s symbolic of our season, losing (to Steamboat Springs) and coming from behind at Rifle. Having to pull it out late in the second half of the league title game, to score a goal like that on this field, that’s pretty special.”Next up for Battle Mountain is Senior Day against Alexander Dawson in nonconference play Tuesday at 4 p.m. Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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