Devils soccer stuns Battle Mountain
GYPSUM — Party like it’s 1999, Eagle Valley soccer.
Prince is invoked because the Devils beat Battle Mountain, 2-0, on Saturday at Hot Stuff Stadium for their first win over their archrivals since everyone was worried about Y2K.
“There are different aspects,” Devils senior midfielder Miles Petterson said of his reaction. “It feels like winning other games, but there is a little disbelief that we took out the No. 1 team in the valley. Now, it doesn’t matter. Any game can change history.”
And there is a lot of history here, and most of it has been black and gold. The last time the Devils beat Battle Mountain, they played their games at the Eagle County Fairgrounds; Ryan Dee scored for Eagle Valley; Troy Cunningham was in net and Dave Marjoram was the coach.
There have been close calls, most notably in 2009 in Gypsum when David Shea appeared to have a golden goal — it was called offsides — in a 1-1 draw. That was the first of two ties that year against Battle Mountain, which ended up scotching the Huskies’ 4A Slope title hopes that season.
And, as an added bonus from the Eagle Valley perspective, Saturday’s win likely ends Battle Mountain’s hope of a fifth consecutive Slope title.
That the Huskies are the four-time defending Slope champions makes even more significant than just beating your county rivals. That’s sweet, no doubt, but coach Bratzo Horruitiner and the Devils have a bigger picture in mind.
It’s not just about giving it the old college try. It’s about cracking into the elite of the 4A Slope and becoming a factor in the league and the state.
“I’ve been telling the boys to be respected, you need to work hard and develop good habits on and off the field.” Horruitiner said. “It’s also psychology. We need to beat the top three teams in the league. We’ve been bringing a good game to Steamboat (Springs), Summit County and Battle Mountain, and we’ve been close. This is exciting for the future.”
“This day was more about Eagle Valley’s attributes than our shortcomings,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “(Eagle Valley) worked hard. (Aldo) Palacios was awesome. They scored on their chances. Great credit to Eagle Valley.”
This is easily the biggest win for Devils soccer in Horruitiner’s three-year tenure, and likely the biggest win for the program since Nov. 2, 2009, when Marco Escobar led Eagle Valley to upset No. 2 Wheat Ridge during the second round of the state playoffs. The Devils made the state’s Elite Eight two years running in 2008 and 2009, but have not been to the postseason since.
The Devils’ Noel Ruiz had a good feeling going into Saturday.
“Before the game, I had the greatest feeling we were going to win,” the junior said. “I felt we were going to get the W.”
Aaron Ledezma scored the first goal, followed by Palacios.
Both Cope and Horruitiner praised Palacios’ play. He dictated play in the middle. Horruitiner also singled out Petterson and Ruiz for managing the pace of the game. In addition to the goal, the coach also thought that Ledezma was key to the Devils’ passing.
The Huskies did hit the crossbar before the half, and that was bad/good luck, depending on one’s partisanship in this rivalry. In truth, Eagle Valley earned its luck.
The Devils packed it in the box defensively, frustrating Battle Mountain’s attack, and the streak was over.
The Devils (5-6-1 overall and 5-4-1 in the Slope) celebrated with a chorus of “Ole,” at midfield.
“I think it’s a really huge win,” Petterson said. “We’ve got a growing program.”
“We’ll celebrate and smile today and be with our friends and fans,” Ruiz said. “Monday we have to start thinking about Summit.”
The Devils are at Farmer’s Korner on Thursday to face the league-leading Tigers.
Meanwhile, the Huskies (8-4 and 7-3) are mathematically alive for a fifth consecutive Slope title, but the scenarios for another championship would likely involve the crashing of meteors.
Battle Mountain’s greater concern is just making the postseason. And that starts with a trip to Steamboat Springs on Tuesday.
“Tuesday’s game against Steamboat is huge,” Cope said. “When you look at the Western Slope (region), Montrose, Durango and Summit look like they’re in (the postseason). CHSAA may give our region a fourth spot and that’s us and Steamboat. Tuesday is going to be a playoff atmosphere.”