Battle Mountain soccer stays alive with golden goal
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Sure, the league standings mattered and after the game Battle Mountain soccer coach Dave Cope considered, just for a moment, what Tuesday’s game meant for his Huskies.
The long, fierce rivalry between the Battle Mountain and Steamboat Springs soccer programs doesn’t need postseason implications or league standings to prop it up, however, and Tuesday night Cope and the Huskies came out on top in another mighty chapter of their on-going war.
Battle Mountain got a goal two minutes into overtime, junior forward Aaron Milligan beating the Steamboat Springs defense with a golden goal, a 2-1 victory.
‘ON TOP OF THE WORLD’
“It feels like I’m on top of the world,” Milligan said.
Milligan’s strike ended a wild game in which both teams seemed to gain decisive advantages.
The Sailors seemed capable of putting it out of reach in the first half as they controlled play and racked up corner kicks and shots. A few flew high, however. Some flew wide and others were gobbled up by Huskies goalie Alan Villegas.
Steamboat came close with a free kick midway through the first half, the ball flying over the goal. It came close again late, as Villegas just tipped a Cruz Archuleta shot high.
Archuleta did get his moments later, scoring with 20 seconds remaining in the first half.
Steamboat couldn’t keep up that pressure in the second and a rejuvenated Battle Mountain scored quickly, Creek Kamby winning in a battle at the net with Steamboat goalie Jake Anderson to tie the game, 1-1.
Anderson was hurt on the play and left the game.
“My heart just goes out for the seniors,” Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. “Their approach into this game was spot on. They did all the right things. They really felt like tonight was their night, and they played like tonight was their night. It doesn’t always script out that way.”
The Huskies got the better of the action the rest of the way, though only barely. Steamboat got a few strong chances to score. Battle Mountain’s David Ortiz blasted a free kick from 35 yards that clanged loudly off the crossbar and rebounded into the field.
Battle Mountain finally got the goal it needed in overtime when Milligan played a through ball from Kamby past Steamboat’s back-up goalie, Andrew McCawley.
“The ball was won in the middle. They got it to Creek. He had a nice through ball and I was just trying to get it on net,” Milligan said.
The game did have some major implications for the race for the postseason, though both team’s still have plenty of work.
They’re butting heads for an assured playoff spot and the No. 2 place in the Western Slope league while Summit sits on top alone.
Still in the Hunt
Battle Mountain’s win bumps the Huskies back into second with an 8-3 mark in the league. Steamboat’s just behind at 6-3-1.
The Huskies have one huge hurdle remaining, a home game against Summit looming Oct. 15. Steamboat has two, first its home season finale at 11 a.m. on Saturday against Palisade, winless in the league. The Sailors then wrap up their league schedule Oct. 14 on the road against 4-4-1 Eagle Valley.
Somehow, as Battle Mountain’s players mobbed together in the middle of the field and Steamboat’s collapsed, lying motionless where they’d been when the final goal rolled in, all that didn’t seem the most important.
“When you come to Steamboat, it’s not really about placement, league standings or playoffs,” Battle Mountain coach Dave Cope said. “It’s just the pride of the two groups playing against each other. We’ve had some unbelievable games against each other over the years.”
That’s something the Huskies would heartily agree with today. It’s something that might come to the Sailors over time.