Battle Mountain Huskies soccer on top of the Slope heap … again
EDWARDS — Battle Mountain soccer held off Glenwood Springs, 5-3, on Thursday, Oct. 12, to win the 4A Western Slope title.
That’s written rather matter-of-factly, but that’s been the hallmark of team that’s doing some remarkable things rather quietly.
The soccer Class of 2018 — all 16 of them — celebrated its last regular-season home game of the year by clinching the program’s 11th league title in the last 14 years.
Take a bow, boys.
“It’s awesome, especially for this group,” said Huskies coach David Cope, who has been around long enough to remember the days when Battle Mountain wasn’t close to being in the title chase. “This team has a lot of four-year players who are first-year starters. They believe in the process and have worked their way up through program to this point. I’m so proud of them.”
And, as if to emphasize that point, two different Huskies scored their first varsity goals against the Demons to help capture the league crown.
Finding a way
The first half of this one was a bit sloppy. First of all, it’s Glenwood Springs, who always gives the Huskies (11-2 overall and 10-0 in the Slope) problems.
Second, this year’s Huskies seem to find a way, regardless.
Down 1-0, Jorge Membreno fed Jesus Dozal to level the game. Dozal has seven goals and seven assists this season as a senior, part of the Huskies’ multifaceted offense.
Stuck behind the likes of Creek Kamby and Juan Macias, Membreno was expected to be a force this year. He’s delivered. Macias tapped a free kick to Membreno, who crushed the finish to make it 2-2. Membreno leads the team with 10 goals.
Then the Huskies appeared to go to the first-varsity goal script. Dozal fed Jered Vargas for the latter’s first. Vargas is the only non-senior starter for the Huskies this year.
With 16 seniors on the roster, playing time is still an issue even as a senior. Up 3-2 — and still in the first half — Axel Olivera found the net. That came from a nice run from Tony Velasco, cutting at the end line.
At the half, the Huskies honored its massive senior class — Alan Villegas, Luke Wilson, Ike Petrik, Pacho Barrio Assif, Macias, Kingston Linder, Mauricio Castillo, Blake Moller, Membreno, Olivera, Abdulaziz Rakhmatov, Jesus Chavez, Gustavo Orona, Harry Jaffe, Dozal and Velsaco.
That was a feel-good moment with the flowers, the parents and the photos, and then the Huskies promptly allowed the Demons to score, closing their lead to 4-3.
After the Homer Simpson d’oh, the Huskies scored the goal of the night with Membreno finding Jaffe — yes, Harry Jaffe — on an 80-yard run from the back line to ice it.
When some guy named Cope was an assistant, Battle Mountain won the 3A Slope in 1991 and 1992. Cope took over the head-coach job in 1993 and started building.
The result has been 11 4A crowns in 14 years — 2004-07, 2010-2013 and now 2015-17.
Cope’s assistant coaches are Ali Bender, Jim Glendining and Erick Briones.
The league title also marks 20 straight years that the boys soccer team will qualify for the postseason, be it 3A or 4A, an unparalleled run for any team in any sport in Eagle County.
Not that Cope would check obsessively, but the Huskies moved to No. 11 in the rating-percentage index with the win. Battle Mountain closes out the regular season at Palisade on Saturday, Oct. 14, at Palisade and then heads north to Steamboat Springs on Thursday, Oct. 19.
The games are important for not only the RPI, but for another reason.
“It would be an amazing thing to go undefeated in league,” Cope said. “That would be a real accomplishment. We haven’t done that since 2012.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.