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Battle Mountain soccer runs the table

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GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado ” A brick is a bad thing in basketball. A brick, however, can be a good thing in soccer.

Before Huskies girls soccer departed for Thursday’s game at Glenwood Springs, trying to become the first team in school history to finish a regular season 15-0, retired Battle Mountain teacher and coach Pat Phelan gave the team a pep talk.

“Mr. Phelan was telling us that anything we can set our mind to, and believe we can do, it can be done,” Huskies captain Emily LyBarger said. “He proved it by saying he could break a brick with his hand. And he did. If Mr. Phelan can break a brick with his hand, we can go 15-0.”

With a broken half of the aforementioned brick lying near their bench at Stubler Memorial Field in Glenwood, the Huskies did, in fact, believe and make history, dusting the host Demons, 4-0, for a 15-0 regular season.

“We made history today,” said Marisa Ammaturo, who had the team’s first two goals and was holding the brick after the game. “Kodak moment.”

At a school which has eight league titles in all between the boys and the girls, 15-0 means something.

The 2005 boys got to 14-0, but were upset at Summit in the regular-season finale. Last year’s girls team went 14-0-1 with a scoreless tie at Steamboat Springs. But there was nary a 15-0 team until Thursday.

“It feels amazing. I could say fabulous, but I feel like fabulous has been used too much,” LyBarger joked at her own expense. “It just shows we have come so far and how good of a team we are. Several people scored today. Jen(ny) B(anner), she played so well tonight. She had two big goals. Stephanie (Woodruff) made a great pass. Josie (Tuthill) played great on the right side. It was a team win. Maddie LyBarger was shutting down (Glenwood’s Chelsea Vallario) like nobody’s business.”

“We’ve had some quality kids come through this program. I think it’s a great achievement,” said Huskies coach David Cope, who’s coached Battle Mountain boys soccer since 1993 and the ladies since 2004. “Sort of halfway through the season, you started thinking, ‘Yeah, it’s a possibility.’ You see it throughout the league. Teams let down for one game and they come back and have the big win. This group of kids is a very competitive group, and that’s part of it.”

‘Not even fair’

It’s trite, but it was true. Win No. 15 of 2008 was a team effort. On a chilly day ” is this really May? ” with a light dusting of snow in Glenwood, Battle Mountain threw the house at the Demons.

All four goals were of a quality befitting a team going for a perfect regular season. In the 22nd minute, Josie Tuthill made a blazing run and crossed it to the box, where Ammaturo was waiting and one-timed it into the box.

Late in the first half, Kayla Telles, who wears No. 15, if one was looking for an omen, cracked a corner kick and Ammaturo again one-timed her shot into the top of the net.

“She blasted it in,” Lizzie Seibert said. “Not even fair.”

Ammaturo’s second just as the whistle blew likely was the crushing blow for Glenwood, but if the Demons were thinking about a comeback, Banner slammed the door shut.

Seibert fed the senior in the 61st, a nice historical touch on a day that the Huskies will remember for a while.

“It was great to see Lizzie set up Banner,” Cope said. “The Seiberts and Banners have known each other for a pretty long time. There’s a lot of history that went into that goal.”

For more recent followers of Huskies soccer, Pete and Tony Seibert and Andy Banner ” older brothers of the two ” all played for Cope in previous falls. The same goes for Woodruff, who had another solid game. She wears No. 20, the same number her brother, Chris, wore.

With his team ahead comfortably, Cope moved Ammaturo back into the midfield, something which should be filed away for the upcoming playoffs. The sophomore still had a brilliant through ball to Banner, who tapped it past Glenwood goalie Kelsie Hert.

Ghosts of Glenwood

A record of 15-0 is sweet anywhere. For Battle Mountain, it’s doubly nice to do so at Stubler. With its tight pitch and eerie propensity for the bizarre, Stubler Memorial Field has many memories for the Huskies.

“Of all places, it’s kind of sweet here,” Cope said. “We’ve had some good battles here over the years. We got the whole thing started over here years and years ago being beaten by nine goals.”

That was Cope’s first season with the boys in 1993 ” which included a 9-0 loss to the Demons ” and it’s pretty clear that as a history teacher he knows his subject.

This includes the 1999 win at Glenwood when the boys team finished with only nine on the pitch because of red cards, the coach’s unlikely suspension in 2003 and the clinching of a third straight league title in 2005. Now, add 15-0 to the list.

“We were so psyched for this game,” said Kate VanHee, who like her older sister, Kate, did, wears No. 10. “Playing in Glenwood is really tough. I think coming here and winning and being 15-0, knowing we have the league title, it’s a fantastic feeling. It’s so awesome. It puts us in a really good position to go to playoffs.

“It’s so satisfying to know that I’m on this team. I wouldn’t want to be on any other team. The team chemistry is so good. We’re so tough. We’re competitive. That’s what makes it so much fun.”

Seeding Sunday

Battle Mountain has done everything it can do to present its best case to CHSAA’s seeding committee, which issues the state-playoff bracket Sunday. The Huskies have long clinched a playoff spot, but the question is where?

Battle Mountain has two problems when it comes to getting a good seed, preferably eighth or better so that the team is assured of home games in the first two rounds of the 32-team tournament. Having to play 14 out of its 15 games in the Western Slope, not considered a strong league, is a problem.

The Huskies also have not fared well in the postseason the last two years. As a No. 15-seed, the Huskies lost to No. 18 Liberty, 2-0, at home two years ago in the first round. Last year, the Huskies drew No. 6. They cruised past Denver South, but lost to No. 11 Golden, 5-0.

That having been said, it’s hard to imagine CHSAA ranking eight teams in front of 15-0 Battle Mountain, no matter what one thinks of the 4A Slope. For what it’s worth, The Denver Post ranks Battle Mountain No. 7 in its 4A poll, while the Rocky Mountain News doesn’t have the Huskies in its top-10.

“My guess would be six though eight,” Cope said. “We’ve got to earn it in the playoffs. That’s the next step for the girls. We have to prove ourselves and earn respect. I feel like we’ve done that now on the boys’ side. We’ve justified our seed multiple years in the playoffs. We haven’t yet on the girls’ side. That’s this year’s mission.”

Whatever the seeding, don’t expect any brick-breaking from Cope to inspire the team.

“I’m leaving that up to Phelan,” he joked.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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