Battle Mountain soccer rolls past Summit with The Classical Academy looming
EDWARDS — Now, it gets serious for Battle Mountain soccer.
The Huskies took care of business in efficient fashion on Tuesday, Sept. 11, white-washing Summit County, 4-0, in Edwards. And now it’s time for the second phase of the season.
The current five-game home stand — Tuesday was game No. 2 — ramps up in a big way with The Classical Academy coming to town on Saturday, Sept. 15, followed by Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs next week.
“This run of home games features Summit, whom we respect a lot and who had some big wins on this field,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “TCA, we have a lot of history with the (2016 state) final two years ago. It’s a team we’ve never beaten. And then Steamboat and Glenwood, the teams we’ll probably be vying with for the league title. These next nine days are big.”
As for TCA, the Huskies have played the Titans five times during the last four years and are 0-5. The most notable of those meetings was the 2016 state-title game at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, a 7-1 TCA romp.
“They mean a lot to me. They’re big teams,” said junior Dani Barajas, who scored twice on Tuesday against the Tigers. “I remember freshman year against TCA in the final.”
For what it’s worth, the Huskies (5-1 overall and 4-0 in the Slope) come in at No. 10 in the chsaanow.com poll with TCA at No. 7 and Steamboat No. 4. Throw in the Battle Mountain-Glenwood Springs rivalry, and it’s big-boy soccer time for the Huskies.
Bend it like Toni?
The Huskies looked crisp on Tuesday, scoring on a set piece in the ninth minute. Trevino Twiss laid it in from the left side on a corner kick and Louis Castillo headed it in perfectly.
Barajas struck on a corner, and yes, he meant to do that, winding it in from a 180-degree angle.
“I’ve had 10 (corner) kicks maybe,” Barajas said. “Eagle Valley was pretty close. I tried it this time and it went in.”
“It’s fun how much soccer our guys watch because Quinn (Mitchell), walking in at halftime was like, ‘That was just like the Toni Kroos free kick in the World Cup for Germany.’ Same angle. Same setup. They guys have a big appetite for the game. They watch it. They digest it. They live it. Tonight, we lived it,” Cope said.
Battle Mountain could have led by more going into the half. The Huskies’ Jared Vargas had a penalty kick, but Tigers goalie Chris Lopez came up with a magnificent save.
“That was a great save,” Tigers coach Tommy Gogolen said. “I think he took a guess and he guessed right and laid out a full out dive. That was impressive.”
In the second half, Hidalgo Ortega and Barajas iced it.
“Good wakeup call for us,” Gogolen said. “Battle (Mountain) plays at a speed we haven’t seen yet. They play good soccer, really tactical, move the ball around. We were late all day with our transition, with our marking, with step. We’ll go back to the film and break it down and use it as a tool going forward.”
Gogolen did note that he was pleased with how his young players responded. In particular, he cited Kevin Perez at left back as well as Thomas Ryckman at defensive midfielder, accidentally calling Ryckman, “Thomas DeBonville.” That slip of the tongue should be considered a compliment.
The mighty, mighty Titans
In the Huskies locker room, assistant coach Ali Bender talked to the team about not being afraid of TCA. Battle Mountain is not hosting the French National Team on Saturday at 6 p.m., but a very good high school team.
“The mental side of that is to tell ourselves, ‘No, we’re not going to be defeated this year (against TCA),” Ortega said. “They’ve beaten us the last six, eight years (sic) — I don’t know how many years it’s been. This year, we have the experience and this year we have the capability.”
While this is a different cast of Huskies than those who have faced the Titans in the past, Cope thinks that might be for the better.
“That freshness may help us,” the coach said. “I think our guys have to look at that Centaurus beat Broomfield and Steamboat knocked off Centaurus. Teams are there for the taking. Obviously we’ll have respect for the opponent. I think Ali’s message was good — step on the field and hey, you can play.”