Chavez hat trick lifts Huskies to title No. 6
Battle Mountain blanks Glenwood, 3-0
EDWARDS — So we going to do this all over again in October?
The first championship of 2021 for Battle Mountain soccer is in the books as the Huskies clinched their sixth 4A Slope title in as many years and their 14th in the last 17 years by dispatching Glenwood Springs, 3-0, on a windy Tuesday evening in Edwards behind a Kevin Chavez hat trick.
Yes, it’s patently absurd to be thinking about next year while this year is still happening — and the Huskies still have some major goals for this 2021 season — hello, state playoffs. But the first day of practice for soccer season, the allegedly normal campaign of 2021, is in early August.
There once was a time when the Slope title could have been on Mars it was impossible, primarily because of teams like Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs. So beating Glenwood to clinch is in keeping with history.
“That’s awesome. We’ve never done that, have we? Six a row,” Cope said, knowing full well the answer. “It’s significant. I love our league. It’s similar towns to us, similar demographics, similar student bodies. To finish on top of a league like that is something to take pride in and to enjoy.”
“This team is really competitive,” Chavez said. “We didn’t celebrate because we are looking for more than a league championship. It’s a fun team that not’s selfish. It’s just like family.”
Kevin Chavez is pretty good
The emphasis is all about team, working together and getting ready for the playoffs, That said, senior Chavez is having quite the season.
Make no mistake, his was not a hattie in 10-0 win over Rifle. Battle Mountain needed Chavez’s troika, and it was delivered a clutch fashion a la Edgar Hernandez.
The funny thing was that Chavez had been struggling scoring, and Cope had given him a pep talk, saying that it was pretty remarkable that No. 8 was a center forward leading the state in assists.
“I just praised him for leading the state in assists and he goes out and scores three goals, ”Cope joked. “Teenagers these days.”
With three goals on Tuesday, Chavez has nine goals and 10 assists.
That’s a darn good season as it is, were it a 15-game regular season. Given that Chavez has accumulated those numbers in seven games, well, you might want to mark him in the playoffs.
The first thing that Cope will do is point out that Bryant Ramirez has 10 goals, so sitting on Chavez probably won’t work. The second thing Cope will point out is that 12 different Huskies have scored in this abbreviated season, so the critical goal in a 1-0 playoff victory could come from anywhere.
“It shows that everyone can score,” Chavez said. “I’m not the only one who can score.”
Nonetheless, Chavez is yet another in the line of stupendous players — Dani Barajas and Juan Macias of late — from Battle Mountain.
And, late in the game, the Huskies welcomed back Louis Castillo, who had a short run as part of his comeback from an ankle injury. Cope had originally planned for Castillo to play about 10 minutes against Summit on Thursday and build up his fitness as the playoffs arrive.
Naturally, Castillo was involved in a tackle about 30 seconds into his stint. The entire Battle Mountain soccer team had a collective heart attack when the tackle happened and Castillo popped back up.
Welcome to the playoffs
While the sweatshirts will doubtless be worn proudly, league title No. 6 puts the team in the 16-team playoff bracket, of which 15 are automatic qualifiers. The translation into English is that the Huskies had to win league to make the playoffs. So that’s step No. 1.
Battle Mountain hopes to be one of the top four seeds when the playoffs begin on April 21. A top four seed means the Huskies are home for the first two rounds of the tournament before it moves to neutral sites.
The Huskies are No. 3 in the CHSAANow.com poll, third in the maxpreps.com rankings and 12th in ratings-percentage index. Those are the three factors that the seeding committee is using to fill out the bracket.
The RPI is probably not going to improve much, simply because while Battle Mountain’s winning percentage presumably will increase, strength of schedule will still be a downer as the Huskies will continue to play exclusively within league.
But Battle Mountain is very much a known quantity in soccer circles, which will aid greatly when it comes to keeping a high seed in the CHSAA Poll. Maxpreps.com seems satisfied with a team continuing to win, so the Huskies are good there.
For the trivially inclined, the last teams not named Battle Mountain to win the Slope are Summit (2015), Steamboat Springs (2009), Eagle Valley (2008) and Rifle in 2003.