Battle Mountain stomps on Rifle
EDWARDS – Rifle goalkeeper Kadie LaRocque had her hands full Monday, so full that Battle Mountain got six shots past her.With every one of those goals unreturned, the Lady Huskies shut out Rifle, 6-0. “We always want a shutout,” said Battle Mountain’s Kate VanHee. “I wasn’t expecting a shutout, but I wanted one. I expected (Rifle) to come out hard. We played really well.”The consensus from both teams was that Rifle, ranked No. 3 in the 4A Slope behind Battle Mountain and Steamboat Springs, who are tied for No. 1, didn’t come out very hard.
“They just never got into the game,” Rifle coach Tom Taucher said of his team. “We sat back too much the first half.”In the first half Rifle was playing against the wind. Although strong gusts repeatedly took the punch out of kicks and clears, allowing the Huskies to put five goals in the net, Taucher said the elements weren’t a factor in his team’s loss. In the second half, Rifle had the wind at its back and had two goal attempts while the Huskies scored just once.”The second half was a little better. We had a few more touches,” Taucher said. “But when we give (Battle Mountain) time and space and they’ve got speed, it’s not hard to get from B to C when you have no pressure on you.”Despite the rapid succession of goals, two of which were scored by Battle Mountain’s Kelsey Sanders, who is up to 21 this season, LaRocque had several gravity-defying saves. She said the rest of the defense is not to blame for her team’s loss.”Our strikers really need to get some shots in,” she said. “I think we need a stronger midfield. We are a young team, but that doesn’t make any difference.”Other goal scorers included freshman Kelsey Plath, who was also elected Offensive Player of the Game, Erika Ghent, Stephany Walker and Julia Burnett, who knocked her season total to date to 22, nearing Battle Mountain’s record of 24. Despite the apparent ease with which the Huskies took their victory, the team was impressed with Rifle’s goal-tending.
“She was a beast,” Burnett said of LaRocque. “I mean she was good. I was really impressed.”Laura Hamrick and McKenzie Stevens held up the defense for Battle Mountain, shutting down Rifle’s attack whenever the visiting team had the ball.No shadow of doubtThe Huskies agreed that such a seamless victory will give them an extra boost going into today’s game at Steamboat.”Altogether, I think we have more talent and a better bond than Steamboat,” Burnett said. “They have individuals on their team that are really good, but overall, we have a stronger team.”
When the Huskies faced Steamboat last month at home, the two teams ended on a 1-1 draw.Battle Mountain coach David Cope said he was surprised by how handily his team conquered Rifle. While he expected his team to win, he said the shutout cancels out any potential for second-guessing going into today’s league-title game.”With (any goals scored), there’s that uncertainty of someone having made a mistake,” Cope said. “We don’t have that now. We had great defense. And having five different goal scorers … all of it bodes well going into a big game. We’re in good form.”Sports Writer Shauna Farnell can be reached at 949-0555, ext.14632, or firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail Colorado