Eagle Valley girls soccer hands Battle Mountain its first league loss
Heidi Reyes scores in the second half to give Devils a 2-1 road win
Heidi Reyes picked a great moment to score her first goal of the season.
“I was just in shock,” the Eagle Valley senior captain said after scoring at the 27:31 mark of the second half to give the Devils a 2-1 lead and eventual win over league-leading Battle Mountain Saturday in Edwards. The Devils — who came into the game with a 2-4-1 league record — handed the Huskies their first league loss.
“I think it’s just been coming,” Eagle Valley head coach Jess Platt said. “We’ve had ups and downs but we’ve been right there with a lot of the league games and you know I think it just clicked today. We put a lot into our preparation and both teams show up for the rivalry game and both teams played well.”
“You got to hand it to Eagle Valley,” Battle Mountain coach Dave Cope said. “They were the better team, they deserve to win. They were better in every aspect of the game.”
Eagle Valley didn’t waste any time putting the hosts on edge. At 37:10, sophomore Addison Mandeville capitalized on a breakaway, booting home a left-footer from the right side of the box just over goalie Elle Glendinning to the top left corner from about six-yards away.
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“I took a touch and shot with my left foot to the side of the net, which I’ve been working on,” Mandeville said. “Elle is my club keeper — I love playing with her — so it’s just awesome.”
Thirty seconds later, Kassandra Carpenter almost batted a rebound in from point blank, but Glendinning sacrificed her body to prevent the Huskies from going down 2-0 early.
“They put a lot of numbers in front of the ball and we were struggling to switch it out of there and find the less crowded side of the field,” Cope said.
The Devils swapped out their 4-3-3 formation to a 5-4-1, dropping a pair of wingers into more of a fullback position and making sure three solid defenders were at the back at all times. The scheme held Battle Mountain’s scoring trio of Cassie Ledezma (1 goal per game), Fiona Lloyd (1.4 goals per game) and Monica Duran (1.3 goals per game) at bay.
“Our tactic was more so to delay the play,” Eagle Valley defenseman Chloe Greener said. “You don’t want to step but you want to hold them back. So it’s like you kind of saw the player instead and then you force them to where your help is. You don’t want to stab in too hard because they’re skilled forwards.”
Lloyd had a decent look at the 30:36 mark, but her centering shot from about 20 yards out was knocked away by a Devil defenseman coming in late. With 15 minutes remaining Alessandra Caballero launched one just over the cross-bar — it deflected perfectly off the field goal cross-bar — the Huskies closest look to that point.
With the clock ticking away from 15 seconds, Lloyd tracked down a pass on the far sideline and gathered it inches from the end line. Her centering pass to the left was on the money to Ledezma, waiting at the opposite post. Eagle Valley goalie Jaquelyn Castellon — in diving for the pass — left the net wide open, but her teammate Lily Dewell dashed in to boot the ball out of the zone and preserve the first-half shutout.
But, fifty-two seconds into the second, Isabella Borg found Caballero, who put the Huskies on the board.
“That’s what we had asked our team to do — receive the ball from one side of the field, switch it to the other,” Cope said. “Izzy did that really well and it created the goal. We just wish we’d done it more than once.”
Twelve minutes later, Reyes’ score shifted the energy back toward Eagle Valley.
“That was huge,” Platt said. “Battle Mountain comes back to tie in the first minute which just levels the playing field right away.”
“It kept the momentum up and I feel like that made us want to be stronger,” Reyes said of her goal.
Battle Mountain didn’t go down without a fight, however, and kept the ball in their offensive zone for a roughly 15-minute stretch following the score.
“I think we were a little sharper. We were possessing and keeping it, which is what we needed to do from the beginning; we just weren’t able to,” Cope said of the elongated offensive series.
A give and go from Thea Armistead to Dulce Orona with 14:26 to go gave Orona a nice look from the wing. The junior forward took one touch and shot it at Castellon, who caught the waist-high bullet. A few minutes later, Charlotte Thelen launched a midfield bomb that almost arced its way into the back of the net. With 9:02 remaining, Ledezma ricocheted a shot off the crossbar from 20-yard line, straightaway. Everything came up empty.
“Today wasn’t about tactics, it was just about mentality,” Cope said. “We were in places to score goals and just didn’t execute skills that we have.”
In the end, the Huskies, who’ve played nine games in the last three weeks, ran out of steam, and a desperation shot on goal ended up in the lap of Castellon. Her teammates stormed down the field and piled on their goalie in celebration as the buzzer sounded.
“I feel like we’re making a comeback and this makes us be more positive with each other,” Reyes said. “It helps us to believe in ourselves. We had a rough start but we want it.”
“I think just as a team we found ourselves positionally in better spots on the field. We’ve been working really hard to stay a little tighter as a unit to have better passing opportunities. We’ve been getting into these long-range balls, getting ourselves into trouble, not being able to keep possession,” Platt said in analyzing what was different about tonight compared to the Devils’ other close league losses. “I think today we really worked at keeping the ball at our feet, possessing the ball and seizing every opportunity.”
Mandeville also believes Tuesday’s 4-0 home loss to Palisade served as a wakeup call.
“We played them close earlier in the season,” she explained. “I think (Tuesday’s) game just changed our mindset a little bit and we knew that we needed to step it up and that’s what we did here.”
With the win, Eagle Valley moves to 5-6-1 overall.
“I think this was a pick me up and a turnaround in the season,” Greener said. “We have a lot of potential. I think if we work harder and take it more seriously, we can go really far.”
The Huskies fell to 8-2-2 and will have to wait until May 2 to make amends on the pitch. Their opponent: Eagle Valley.
“We need to bring the same intensity that we did here and just step it up another level because they’re going to step it up again too,” Mandeville said.
“They’re going to be more aggressive and want to win, so we need to keep working,” Reyes added. “And that’s what we’re going to do.”