Battle Mountain moves past Marauders, 2-0
EDWARDS — Don’t you forget about me.
Battle Mountain maintained a shutout victory against Mitchell, 2-0, and walked off to its familiar tune after a win in the first round of the 4A state playoffs on Wednesday in Edwards, advancing to the second round against No. 19 Valor Christian on Tuesday.
The Huskies (14-2) and Marauders (6-9-1) spent much of the first half testing each other in their first-ever matchup. Battle Mountain’s Erik Solis and Uriel Lopez helped maintain ball control, but the Huskies had a difficult time getting through the last few Marauder defenders.
“They were defending with a lot of numbers, and they were frustrating us,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “We were a little slow to make decisions, and we’ll have to be quicker making decisions in the second round.”
Battle Mountain had its chances in the first half. Oscar Lopez fired a shot less than one minute into the game. With 23 minutes left in the opening half, Solis worked with Tony Velasco to set up a play in the box. The Mitchell keeper tried to stop it, but Lopez got his foot on it first and found the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.
The Marauders kept ball control for much of the final five minutes of the half, but a swarming Huskies defense smothered any real opportunity. Looking for one more goal just before halftime, Solis took a shot that went off the keeper’s fingertips and then the crossbar.
Huskies keeper Jack Skidmore recorded his ninth shutout of the season with the help of aggressive defense in front of him.
“He’s a rock,” Cope said. “I think that gives the players in front of him confidence to take more risks than they otherwise might. He’s a great leader, too. He gives us as much in the locker room as he does in the field.”
The Marauders kept searching for chances in the second half against the Huskies, but Miles Joersz, Chase Keep and the rest of the Battle Mountain defense stopped the Marauders around the goal.
“They are phenomenal. I couldn’t ask for a better defense,” Skidmore said. “It makes my job easier.”
Jacob Amaya added some key stops in the second half for the Huskies, helping Battle Mountain keep the ball and stay on the attack. It finally paid off when Uriel Lopez worked his way through Marauder defenders and to the front of the net with about a minute remaining. The goalie dove on the ground but couldn’t control the ball, and Lopez stayed on his feet to tap it in for the 2-0 win.
“It’s great to play at home and be in front of the community,” Cope said. “We would have liked to give them more goals to look at, but the first round is tricky. It’s just about survive and advance.”
Since 2009, Cope and the Huskies have advanced past the first round every year except last season.
The Huskies have now won 11 in a row and will host Valor Christian in Edwards on Tuesday.
“We just look to the next game,” Skidmore said. “That’s all we’ve got to do. We’ve got to take it one game at a time and use the week that we have to train up for the next game.”
Cope said Creek Kamby, who has now missed three games with an injury, is probable for Tuesday’s game against Valor Christian.
Battle Mountain is in the playoffs with the highest seeding in school history at No. 3 after winning the competitive Western Slope. (The undefeated 2012 Battle Mountain team earned the No. 6 seed.)
Reporter Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2922 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram at Colorado_Livin_On_The_Hill.