Devils soccer rallies past Huskies in overtime
GYPSUM — They just aren’t the little brothers anymore when it comes to Eagle County soccer.
Eagle Valley’s Alex Torres was golden with three minutes left in the second overtime to lift the Devils over Battle Mountain, 2-1, on Tuesday evening at Gypsum.
“It’s amazing, knowing you’re the reason you’re going one step forward? It’s amazing,” said Torres after being feted by his teammates and a good portion of his school’s student body. “Beating a team like this is great. Battle Mountain has always had a good team. They’re our rivals.”
And this is now a full-blown rivalry, not just for bragging rights. That’s three years in a row that Eagle Valley has beaten Battle Mountain on the friendly confines of John Ramunno Field.
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There were so many plotlines in this one. For the second straight game, Eagle Valley (1-1 overall and 1-0 in the Slope) fell behind 1-0, and managed the equalizer. Battle Mountain’s Brandon Rodriguez scored late in the first half, and for the second straight game, the Devils’ Carlos Chavez leveled a match.
With 40 minutes left, Eagle Valley was looking down the barrel of an 0-2 start, which could have been a daunting situation for a young team.
Battle Mountain’s Efren Ortega picked up two yellow cards midway through the second half, forcing the Huskies to play 10-on-11 the rest of the way. Despite the odd numbers, the Huskies managed to play well, including Daniel Ortega’s free kick, which clanked tantalizingly off the crossbar.
Meanwhile, Eagle Valley goalie Elian Gonzalez went down with what appeared to be right-leg injury 10 minutes into the second half. Junior varsity keeper Lalo Balderas got the call and held the Huskies scoreless the rest of the way.
Then there is that fact that the dimensions of Eagle Valley’s pitch — not as wide as Edwards — really causes the Huskies problems. Every Battle Mountain corner kick — and there were many — went long. Battle Mountain likes playing wide and it’s hard to do in Gypsum. (In all fairness, it’s not like the Huskies don’t know this is coming. It’s a fixture on the schedule.)
Not playing for a draw
Chavez’s equalizer came in the 55th minute, and Eagle Valley seemed to have more of the momentum advantage when Efren Ortega was sent off.
But, in fact, the Huskies were able to apply more pressure.
“The thing you say to them is that, with 10 men, we never thought about sitting back and packing it in and playing for a (draw),” Huskies coach David Cope said. “We were pushing for the win. Full credit to Eagle. They battled really hard.”
At the half, the Devils had made some adjustments, including adding a striker. It’s somewhat counterintuitive, but the man-advantage may have been a challenge for the Devils initially.
“I feel like we lost our composure a little when we couldn’t figure out to do with the time (and space) with the extra player,” Devils coach Bratzo Horruitiner said. “We freaked out a little bit. That was the toughest part of the game.”
But as has been the history of this series, especially in Gypsum, Eagle Valley found a way.
“When we started the overtime, Bratzo told us, ‘Go for the shot, go for the shot,’” Torres said. “We saw the goalie come out a little bit. All we needed was a shot over them. That’s all I was looking for.”
Just as Eagle Valley’s season-opening loss to Green Mountain on Saturday was not the be-all and end-all for the Devils, Tuesday’s defeat does not chart the course of the entire season for Battle Mountain. Of, course, Eagle Valley’s camp has a little more spring in its collective step this morning.
Both teams are next at Rifle — the Devils on Thursday and the Huskies on Sept. 8.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.