Battle Mountain soccer blanks Palisade, 5-0
The emphasis is on the zero
EDWARDS — Perhaps the most important play of Friday night’s Battle Mountain-Palisade soccer game was quite frankly rather unimportant, which, in retrospect, could make it very significant.
On Senior Night, the Huskies were comfortably ahead of the Bulldogs, 5-0, had already taken their senior bows at halftime, were about to get asked to prom (senior Caroline Loya) and all but clinched their second 4A Western Slope title.
In the final minute, Battle Mountain senior goalie Wilder Isom faced a wicked Palisade free kick and magnificently parried it over the bar preserving the shutout and the team’s status of having not allowed a goal in nine league matches.
“The whole team has bought into ‘no goals allowed’ in league,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “They want Wilder to do so well. It was really cool to see them rally around that moment and for Wilder to live that moment. It was a good save. She was stylish in making the save. That was awesome.”
The Huskies could have won, 5-1. They wanted to beat Palisade, 5-0, which they did. That’s significant for a Battle Mountain team that’s 11-1 overall, 9-0 in the 4A Slope and ranked No. 4 in the rating-percentage index going into Friday night’s match.
These are the challenges within the games — which in a lot of cases haven’t been competitive — that keep all 26 players on the roster all on the same page.
“We know we can win the game, but we keep working for each other because we want to keep that zero for each other,” senior defender Claire Krueger said.
This is the sort of focus that a team with aspirations of a deep playoff run needs, especially when playing the softer part of its schedule. Palisade left Edwards with a 1-9 record and the Huskies’ take on Rifle and Summit County, who are a combined 2-17, before facing Glenwood Springs, where the “big zero” will be severely tested.
“It’s not just defense in back,” senior defender Addie Smith said. “There’s defense in the midfield. There’s defense with the offense. It’s just such a motivation at this point to keep the goals out.”
And so it was that Isom’s save was the play of the game on a night of many highlight-reel goals. Senior Audrey Teague absolutely crushed a shot in the 19th minute for what would be the needed margin.
We’ll get to where this team stands in the pantheon of girls’ soccer teams at Battle Mountain, but when it comes to crushing finishes Teague is in good company with the likes of Huskies past such as Logan Nash and Marisa Ammaturo.
Since underclass-people are required to score on Senior Night — Teague did so in both 2017 and 2018 — junior Rayna Kenney found the back of the net twice on Friday. Her second tally was an absolute sparkling one-timer from Smith.
Senior Brogan Murray finished up a nice feed from Gabby Caballero in the second half and junior Kate Mitchell wrapped the night — until Isom’s save — on an assist from Teague.
While there is a lot of soccer remaining, starting with the perfunctory drumming of Rifle a week from today which will clinch the league crown — the Bears are 0-10 and have been outscored, 75-2, this season — Friday was also a time to reflect on the Class of 2019’s legacy in the school’s soccer-rich history.
Cope, of course, has coached them all — the 2008 squad of Emily LyBarger, Kelsey Sanders and Julia Burnett that posted the only perfect 15-0 regular season in the spring as well as the 2015 squad of Emily Cope, Acacia Ortiz, and Nash.
“I put this team up with those two waves — the Emily-Acacia-Logan team and the ‘other’ Emily-Kelsey-Julia team,” coach Cope said. “I put this team on that level. They’ve been a pleasure to coach.”
The seniors of the 2019 team are Isom, Smith, Summer Kenney, Teague, Krueger, McMurrain, Maria D’Andrea, Sadie Fitzgerald, Murray and Loya.
Eagle Valley High School’s Joslin and Samantha Blair, Jewel Scrivens and Avery Doan did more than hold their own competing with the best of the best.