Eagle-Vail: Huskies soccer routed … remain calm
In a week of many great games, nothing was more stunning than what happened to Battle Mountain girls soccer.
The Huskies lost 9-0, 5-0 and 7-1?
That would be Valor Christian Thursday and Colorado Academy and Steamboat Springs Saturday.
I am not saying this to rub it in. One has to say it to believe it. This brings back memories of when Battle Mountain boys soccer beat Steamboat Springs, 6-0, in 2004. Soccer coach David Cope and I both had a good feeling that day about Battle Mountain’s chances that day, but both of us never thought we’d live long enough to see the day the Huskies pounded the Sailors, 6-0.
It led to one of my best leads of all time, “The tectonic plates of the 4A Slope ruptured Tuesday.” (I grew up in earthquake country and was at Game 3 of the 1989 World Series as a senior in high school when that quake hit, but that’s a lead for the ages, kids.)
We may be at another tectonic rupture in the 4A Slope, given that the 7-1 was a loss to Steamboat Springs. (FYI, ironically, both the Huskies and Sailors went to last week’s Valor Christian Tournament to see other teams and both ended up playing each other in the cross-over game. Whoops.)
We are certainly at a pivotal moment in Battle Mountain’s season. Happily, Lizzie Seibert just tweaked her ankle against Steamboat. She’ll be her usual terrifying self to opponentsafter spring break.
Having dodged that one, last weekend was certainly wake-up call, and I’m not too sure it wasn’t a bad thing. As Huskies girls soccer has found out during the posteasons of the last few years as well as last weekend, it is one thing being good in the Western Slope and a completely different thing going down to the Front Range.
Remember that 2006 Battle Mountain volleyball remains the exception to the rule, simply a superb team in a time where everything fell into place. Class 4A ranges in school size from 586-1,440 klds.
What happened to Battle Mountain last weekend is generally what happens when good teams from the Slope face the Front Range. This is why Eagle Valley soccer’s win against Mullen (with a student body of 1,000 and a wee-bit of a reputation for recruiting) in Round 2 of the state soccer playoffs last fall was so significant, and well, why the ride understandably ended in the quarters against Rock Canyon (1,100).
Phil Tronsrue and the recent turmoil around Huskies boys basketball remains relevant here. During that mess, a parent complained, “There’s no reason that (Battle Mountain) can’t be more like Steamboat, which has won something like 12 of the last 14 league championships. We want to win 12 league championships.”
First, 12 championships is a ton, Bub. Of the traditional high school sports, boys soccer at Battle Mountain is the most successful with six league titles. (Toss in the ladies and you have eight.) Second, did you check out how a great Western Slope program like Steamboat does in the playoffs? This year, the Sailors had a first-round win against 10-13 Skyline and a 20-point loss to No. 3 Longmont.
In 2008, 2007 and 2005, Steamboat lost in the Sweet 16. In 2004, the Sailors went out in the first round. The only year not mentioned in this recent sequence would be 2006 ” when the Huskies happened to be eliminated in the Sweet 16.
Yes, I do enjoy tweaking Tronsrue’s critics. But the thing is as good as Steamboat boys basketball is ” and the Sailors are unquestionably the model program in our part of the state ” Slope teams hit a wall when it comes to the Front Range.
And that bring us back to Cope’s Huskies and girls soccer. The Huskies have suitably demonstrated that they can kick the snot of the 4A Slope. As I reported Friday, Battle Mountain was 35-0-1 in the regular season, dating back to April 11, 2006, and a loss to Steamboat before the team’s defeat Thursday.
The next step was playing the Front Range, and Cope, Battle Mountain athletic director Rich Houghton, Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann and Houghton’s counterpart in Sailors Nation are to be commended for reconfiguring the Slope in girls soccer, so last weekend could happen. (This just in, Rich Houghton actually gets positive press from the Vail Daily.)
What Battle Mountain learned is what we all have known and whispered about for years, even during last year’s 15-0 regular season. The Huskies have got to learn to play defense against good teams. This is not a knock on goalie Moira Laughlin or defenders Katie Gray, Syd Idzikowski, Maddie Stevens and Nalleli Hernandez or whoever else was back there. (Maddie LyBarger was hurt this weekend.) You can’t practice for a pace of play which you never see, and further, defense, in any sport, isn’t played by just defenders.
That’s why these games were on the schedule. That’s why Wheat Ridge is game No. 15.
The Huskies are still a good team which can contend for the Slope. The key lesson out of last weekend is whether the Huskies can learn from this and future encounters with elite competition and improve their skills.
It won’t happen overnight, but I look forward to the day when the tectonic plates rupture again as Battle Mountain thumps Valor Christian, 6-0.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.