Defense Holds to Give Huskies Win
EAGLE-VAIL – When the Battle Mountain soccer team turned up for its game Thursday against Moffat County, the Huskies probably had no idea that a track meet was being held. The up-and-down game between these two teams left even the spectators breathless, as the Huskies would fight and claw all afternoon to hold on to a 2-1 victory.
Battle Mountain would get on top early with an amazing goal from junior Harrison Brown off of a nice through-ball assist from sophomore Antonio Aparicio. That goal would help the Huskies settle down and get into the flow of the game.
“It was big for us to get that first goal,” said coach David Cope. “That’s why we came out early and hit them with a lot of different things on offense to try to get that first one.”
After that it was a story of missed opportunities for the Huskies. Andy Banner would hit the post just minutes later, and Moffat County’s defense turned the home team away repeatedly throughout the first half on what appeared to be can’t-miss chances.
Then disaster struck as Moffat’s Dustin White scored a cheap goal off of a misplayed through ball, managing to sneak the ball past Huskies goalie Joel Gonzalez to make the score 1-1 at halftime.
“That goal was my fault, my teammates told me at halftime,” said Gonzalez. “I promised them I’d play better in the second half.”
Gonzalez was true to his word. The second half would belong to him and the Huskies’ defense, who were anchored by the strong play of sweeper Connor Drumm, as well as Kyle Moore, Taylor Roach and Dane Jacobs.. With Moffat applying plenty of second half pressure, the crew managed to keep turning the Bulldogs away with a couple of amazing late saves by Gonzalez.
“We played with a lot of heart today,” said Brown. “We accomplished more as a team today than we have in any game this season.”
The Huskies heart-filled effort would finally pay off midway through the second half when senior Julio Garcia connected on a corner kick with Aparicio who floated a head ball just out of the Moffat keeper’s reach. After the game, Coach Cope had high praise for his young forward.
“He’s a skillful, little player, he had some good chances in the first half,” said Cope. “We think he’s very good with the ball and it’s just a matter of making him more effective with the ball so he can score more goals.”
With the score 2-1 in favor of the Huskies, the Bulldogs would again apply some intense pressure, playing numerous long balls into the box and into the heart of the Battle Mountain defense. Again, the Huskies were equal to the challenge, though, repeatedly clearing the ball out of harm’s way.
“I was really happy with the team defense we played today,” said Cope. “I was impressed by Julio (Garcia), who recognized that we needed to get back and help our fullbacks out on defense at the end of the game.”
With the team at full strength and growing as a group, Cope was pleased with the team’s effort, but recognizes the need for improvement as the the Huskies face a tough stretch away from home next week, against Delta on Tuesday and Rifle on Thursday.
“We’re 3-2 overall, and 2-0 in the league,” said Cope. “We have two tough away games next week, so we will train hard this weekend and try to take it to the next level, and see where we stand next week. So, I think things are really starting to happen for us.”
David L’Heureux is a freelance writer based in Vail
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