Eagle-Vail: Huskies soccer looks to return to the top
EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado – Battle Mountain soccer knows how the season ended last year – with a 3-2 overtime loss to Longmont in the first round of the state playoffs.
If for some reason the Huskies forgot, coach David Cope brought in alumnus Davey DeChant, a senior on last year’s squad, to say a a few words.
“He said a lot of things. ‘Don’t take things for granted,'” Cope said. “‘It’s a long season, but you can’t believe how quickly it ends. We did things we’re proud of, but that loss to Longmont will haunt me forever.'”
“It just brought back the memory,” Huskies goalie Clint Hervert said. “This is going to be gone in a flash. It meant a lot to me as a senior.”
Last year was a strange one for Battle Mountain soccer. The Longmont loss as well as seeing the program’s string of four-consecutive Slope titles come to an end was bitter. The mood improves when the Huskies remember they handed their title successor, Eagle Valley, its only two losses of the regular season.
Battle Mountain has a long to-do list in 2009, and likely a very strong squad with which to do it. The soccer team gets the honor of being the first team to play on the new turf in Edwards on Sept. 22 against Glenwood Springs. Also on the agenda would be a return to the peak of the Slope and an extended playoff run.
Cope has a major concern when it comes to his squad this year. He’s wondering who’s going to score goals this year. For anyone who’s been around Battle Mountain soccer in the last 10 years, this is definitely a different problem.
The 2009 Huskies are stout (and tall) on defense, another historical paradox. Hervert has started for two years between the net and is battle-tested. He has an exceptional group of fullbacks in front of him with Connor Tedstrom, Cody Hervert and Chad Wilkinson.
The last in that bunch is the latest in a line of players up from the JV ranks, and Cope thinks he’ll make an impact. If you’re wondering about senior David Gonzalez, Cope has him at midfield, but he’ll come back to fullback in certain situations. Andreas Calabrese could see time here also.
“It makes me a lot more comfortable when you have good guys like that, especially when you’ve been playing with them since you were 5-years-old,” Clint Hervert said. “You feel a lot safer.”
The midfield is equally-talented. Look for combinations of Leopoldo Rodriguez, Brian Morales, Efren Gonzalez, David Gonzalez, Sergio Sifuentes, Aaron Borne, Patrick Perry and Diego Rodriguez.
The question is at striker. Ubaldo Trujillo returns after a promising sophomore season and an injury-filled junior year. Jack Sunderland holds the other striker position. Backing them up are Haiven Garcia and Joe LyBarger. (After all, this really couldn’t be Battle Mountain soccer without a LyBarger.)
The Huskies lost a lot of scoring with the graduation of DeChant (17 goals) and the departure of Jair Molina (15). The new crew has talent, but is not game-tested. Battle Mountain’s top returning scorer is Sifuentes, who had seven last year.
“It’s a mystery who is going to score goals for this team,” Cope said. “The goals are going to be there for the taking.”
‘New home, same traditions’
Battle Mountain’s run of four-consecutive titles from 2004-07 was going to end sometime, but that didn’t lessen the disappointment when it finally happened last year. And that makes for a greater sense of urgency in 2009 for the program, whose members have known pretty much nothing but winning.
Adding to that feeling is the new athletic complex, which is visible from Interstate 70. The team’s practice T-shirt has the motto. ‘New home, same traditions.’
“This senior group has known about this for a while,” Cope said. “A while ago, I took, Clint, David and Connor on a tour of the new campus. It’s pretty cool to see it become a reality. It’s a home we’re defending.”
Cope, in fact, shuffled the schedule so that the Huskies would not have a home game until the new pitch was ready. The Huskies start the season with five road games, beginning with Summit on Thursday.
As far as the Slope is concerned, Battle Mountain will have to improve its play against Glenwood and archrival Steamboat Springs. The Huskies’ title ambitions were undone by a 1-3 mark against the Demons and Sailors last year. While Eagle Valley lost considerable talent to graduation, Cope expects the Devils to be in the mix for one the Slope’s three playoff spots.
“With what happened last year and with a new field, new uniforms, it’s given us a lot of drive to reach our potential,” Hervert said. “When you drive by the new field, you think about going out there. I’ve been dreaming about that day.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.
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