Ding, dong, the witch is dead
EAGLE-VAIL – When knew that telecommunications would play such a factor in a soccer game?
Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann entered Thursday’s Battle Mountain-Steamboat soccer game, hoping for a win against the Huskies and a phone call that told him that Delta beat Rifle – a scenario, which would all but give his Sailors the 4A Slope title.
Huskies coach David Cope wanted nothing to do with the telephone, fax or pigeon carrier, for that matter.
“I told the guys that, after each game, I call the newspaper for scores around the league,” Cope said. “I told them I wanted to make no phone calls tonight. Let’s take care of business on the field and celebrate now.”
Well, Cope’s phone bill is a little lighter this morning.
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For the first time since 1992, Battle Mountain beat Steamboat and – convincingly, 2-0. And, in the process, the Huskies clinched their sixth posteason spot in as many years – and fourth in a row in as many years in Class 4A.
And, the Huskies followed their coach’s orders and celebrated on their field, waving to their fans and mobbing each other.
“That was pretty sweet, huh?,” Cope said, in the understatement of the day. “I’m proud of these kids, man. It’s great. There’s a lot of pride. There were some parents of the kids who were here over the years at today’s game. You see some of those guys, who have played in the program, and Daniel Weiland here, and the different coaches and players who’ve been involved. It takes a long time build something like this.”
“It’s awesome,” said Dane Jacobs, who attended the Vail Mountain School for the last two years, before transferring to Battle Mountain. “It’s such a big victory. Even when I was going to VMS, I would watch the night games (against Steamboat). I sensed what a big rivalry it was and it was great to be a part of the win.”
Antonio Aparicio and Jacobs got the goals, but the Man of the Match was clearly Huskies goalie, Joel Gonzales. Steamboat had multiple opportunities throughout the game and the Battle Mountain sophomore stood tall with spectacular save after spectacular save.
“I think as a unit they played very well,” Bohlmann said. “They were sharp and they had a really good gameplan. Some of their players came up big. The goalkeeper, I thought, he had a heroic performance today. They got the job done. Congratulations to Battle Mountain.”
Cope spread the congratulations not only to Gonzales, but to the members, who were key to the Huskies’ defensive effort, which delivered its first shutout of the season. Those players would include Everado Gonzales, the tireless Connor Drumm, Kyle Moore, Harrison Brown, who’s proved to be the jack-of-all-trades this year, and Taylor Roach.
On offense, Battle Mountain got up, 1-0, midway through the first half when Andy Banner made a smart play deep in his own end. Instead of booming the ball down the field, the striker flicked the ball back to Drumm, whose long pass sprung Aparicio.
Aparicio broke in, with a Steamboat defender hanging on to his jersey and found the back of the net.
“Andy played it Connor. He served the ball,” Aparicio said. “I was going to play to my right, but the defender was trying to grab my jersey. So, I went to the left.”
“Antonio, one-on-one with the keeper, you have to like your chances there,” Cope said.
Yes, you do. And, you have to like your chances when Banner gets a corner kick. The Huskies drill set plays just about everyday, and all that work came to fruition Thursday in the second half. Banner served the perfect ball and Jacobs was there in the air to head it in for a 2-0 lead.
“It was just a corner kick,” Jacobs said. “We scored on that play in the last game against Steamboat. I knew it was going to be a goal before I went up and got it. It was a great ball by Andy.”
Battle Mountain raised its mark to 7-4 in conference and will finish the season in third. But the regular season isn’t done yet. Cope wants his team to finish strongly Saturday at Glewnood Springs at 11 a.m.
“The biggest thing is just to be playing well going into the playoffs,” Cope said. “Keep the momentum going. After an emotional win like this, if you can show the character to come back and win an away game against a decent opponent, that would be a nice mark for this team. Plus, it would put us to 8-4 in the league. Eight league wins in this league is a good mark.”
It should be noted that Battle Mountain made the playoffs last year with a 4-4-2 mark.
Meanwhile, Steamboat has to bounce back – and quickly. The Sailors, who will go into the playoffs with the Slope’s second seed, host Palisade today at 4 p.m.
“We’re just going to have to do a little soul-searching,” Bohlmann said. “It’s certainly not going to be an easy thing. But, we’ve got to find it deep within us, knowing that we have played some very good soccer this season, and we’re in a bit of a slump right now. We’ve got to find the desire first to rekindle what we had going on early on.”
Chris Freud is the sports editor of the Vail Daily. He can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.