Battle Mountain flattens Palisade
EDWARDS – The Battle Mountain girls’ soccer team nearly slid into the Slope title last season when Glenwood Springs upset Steamboat Springs last April. The lesson? Three points are just as critical in March as they are during the last week of the season.”It’s really important,” Battle Mountain striker Julia Burnett said. “You saw what happened to Steamboat last year, losing to Glenwood. We don’t want to slip up in a game like that. We take every game seriously.”Burnett made sure the Huskies took care of business with a hat trick Friday in a 7-0 win over Palisade at Freedom Park in Edwards, helping the Huskies cap the first week of the season with a 2-0 record.”It’s really good for the team,” Huskies senior Kelly VanHee said. “I think we started off not as confident because we lost so many seniors. We’re a really strong team. We’re going to carry ourselves. It’s a really positive thing.”The visiting Bulldogs got three points out of the week with a 1-0 win over Rifle Thursday, and that will do Palisade coach Luann Ehlers fine, given the young state of her team.”(It’s) definitely experience,” she said. “We have seven freshmen, and I was pleased with it. I have a freshman in the goal (Amelia Davis). We started to get the hang of it. It only can go up from here.”
Huskies coach David Cope continued to tinker with his goaltending situation, but moved Kelsey Sanders back to her familiar striker position after starting her in the net Thursday against Delta.That move seemed to pay dividends as Battle Mountain got off to a much faster start against Palisade Friday than against Delta the day before.”They’re just used to having each other there and that’s important,” Cope said. “Whereas yesterday we struggled with our finishing, today we struggled with possession. Some passes went off the field. Pretty good overall, though.”
The Huskies had two goals coming in against Palisade – to shoot earlier in their possessions and improve their crossing.Battle Mountain checked No. 1 of its list when Burnett clanked a shot off the right post and Emily LyBarger smashed home the rebound in the 15th minute. For the second game in a row, LyBarger got the Huskies’ first goal.Burnett ripped the twine twice in just two minutes, and then it was time for a familiar refrain. After going the whole season – all one game of it – without combining for a goal, Burnett fed Sanders for a 3-0 lead.”A big part was getting Kelsey back up top. We still have the connection,” Burnett said with a laugh.
Another nice sign from Battle Mountain’s first two games is that the team’s newcomers seem to be meshing well with the veterans. Freshman Lizzie Seibert assisted Sanders on her second goal of the day in the second half. Fellow frosh Marisa Ammaturo started the sequence on Kelly Bowles’ tally in the 65th minute.”It’s definitely different than Steph (Walker) or Kate (VanHee) who graduated,” Burnett said. “They’re stepping up and they’re playing really well.”Burnett wrapped things with the hat trick, which, as the Cope-ism goes, is a tremendous accomplishment at any level.
Palisade has the week off for spring break before a short hop down to Delta March 20. Battle Mountain heads to Gyspum for Eagle Valley Tuesday.”Obviously we have a lot of respect for Mary (Cochrane) and Sarah (Hoza),” Cope said. “I think they were here today. The girls have been getting more and more competitive each year. It’s going to be a good game. Anytime, you play your county rival, the players are teammates (in club). It’s exciting.”
Gianbottiglio, the Huskies’ award for the game’s MVP, went to Seibert. … No 10 stays in the family: Kelly VanHee has inherited the number from her sister Kate, who was in the crowd Friday. “I miss her,” Kelly said. “Wearing her number is amazing because she’s always with me on the field.” … Slope watch: Steamboat at Glenwood was scrubbed because the Stubbler Field isn’t ready yet for play. The Sailors spent the afternoon scrimmaging against Greeley West. … Kaeli Hosler and Kori Landauer split a very uneventful shutout … Battle Mountain soccer alums Joel Gonzales, Gustavo Bronfield and Eric Garcia are trying out today for Mesa State’s men’s soccer team. This fall will be the first year the school has a team.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.