Battle Mountain squeaks by Steamboat, 2-0
EAGLE-VAIL – At 12:33 p.m. Saturday, Huskies Soccer Nation exhaled.The Slope-leading Huskies had just escaped with a 2-0 win over Steamboat Springs.The underdog Sailors likely played their best game of the year, stymieing the potent Huskies for 75 minutes before Edgar Hernandez put in the game winner and Casey Kleisinger added some insurance. “That’s a good win,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “Any time you beat Steamboat, it’s a good win. I was really proud of the way the boys persevered and said, ‘OK, it’s not going our way. We’re not getting too much luck.’ But we didn’t panic. We didn’t make ourselves scramble at all.””We’re extremely proud of these guys, for sure,” Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann said. “They came out and did give it a heck of an effort. We’re going to look to springboard from this. Having said that, Battle Mountain is one of the top teams in the state and they definitely had the run of play today and they did well. Both groups have a lot to take away from this game.”Battle Mountain (11-0 overall and 9-0 in the Slope) got one of its stiffest challenges in league play, and a definite wake-up call as the postseason looms for the Huskies. The young Sailors (1-8-1, 1-6-1) proved to themselves that they can play with one of the stronger teams in the state.’Staying compact’
Though the Huskies were heavily favored going into Saturday’s game, this contest lived up to the rivalry status which both Battle Mountain and Steamboat have established since 2000.The Huskies had a ton of chances, including three clanks off the frame in the first half, but couldn’t break through against Sailors keeper Elliot Gerard.”We were playing with four in the back,” Bohlmann said. “Our biggest focus was just staying compact. We were saying that we don’t want them to go up the gut and, if they’re going to attack, they’ve got to attack from the flanks. Obviously, they did well with that. There were a lot of services and they earned a lot of corner kicks.””Give Rob huge credit,” Cope said. “I will always have huge respect for Steamboat and that’s the first team that’s made the defensive adjustment that I would have made against us. In case anyone’s reading, I’m not going to say what that is. “It frustrated us. It’s good for us to see that because other teams will play that way. He had his team prepared and they battled hard and they had numbers on us in a lot of key places. In the end, we score a goal from a restart and sometimes that’s what we need to do.”That restart came in the 75th minute when Steamboat’s Max Hamil was booked with a yellow card. Battle Mountain’s Tyler Cole served the ball in from 40 yards out into the box. There, Connor Drumm got his head on the ball and directed it to Hernandez who smashed it home.”It feels great, you know,” Hernandez said. “We were frustrated in the first half. We just came back and scored some goals. It feels good to beat Steamboat. I was a little bit worried it wouldn’t go in.””I don’t think I’ve ever seen him jump so high,” Kleisinger joked.
Those who have followed Huskies soccer know that Hernandez is no stranger to clutch situations. “Edgar scores a lot of game-winning goals,” Cope said. “You look back through the last two years, and it’s not just this year. He scores a lot of game-winning goals. When the game is on the line, Edgar has the temperament that’s very, very calm.”Thanks, BandoniEric Garcia subbed in for Hernandez after the latter scored and it was a good piece of timing. Garcia fed Kleisinger two minutes later.Kleisinger, a transfer from the Vail Mountain School, whistled his shot under the bar to give the Huskies some breathing room. Kleisinger said he learned the shot from none other than VMS coach Bob Bandoni.”That shot was the Bandoni expertise,” the junior said. “Twenty minutes after practice last year, he just taught me that, the knuckle ball. That’s just what it was. I was taking a little bit from VMS and putting it into Battle Mountain.”From where ever it came, it was Kleisinger’s fifth goal in just four games.
Next on the hit paradeSteamboat has a busy week ahead. Tuesday, the Sailors are at Palisade. Thursday is at Moffat County, and if it’s Saturday, it must be Rifle at home. After the game, Bohlmann emphasized the importance of taking the momentum of Saturday’s tilt into these matches.”For us, we really found that if you take care of the blue-collar stuff, that’s big time,” Bohlmann said. “We’re looking to build from this, and hopefully, improve the quality of our soccer against a level of opponent like that.”Meanwhile, the Huskies have Summit Thursday over the pass and host Glenwood Springs Saturday at 11 a.m. If the Huskies win on Saturday, they will repeat at Slope champions. But the Summit game has postseason implications with regards to seeding.”Those are important games because we always say that our league is fairly comparable to the Jeffco 4A League,” Cope said. “So however you do against Summit, people are going to compare how did Summit do against Golden or the teams that we’re going to get paired with at the end of the year. You’d like to go over there and do well. They always give us a good task. They’re a good team.” Sports editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado