Edwards: Huskies make another early exit
EDWARDS, Colorado ” It’s a good three hours and 168.05 miles from Greeley West High School to Freedom Park in Edwards, and all of it was worthwhile for the visiting Spartans, ranked No. 24 in the state, who upset No. 9 Battle Mountain, 3-2, in the first round of the state playoffs Tuesday.
“The bus ride becomes much shorter on the way home.” Greeley West coach Mike Lordemann joked.
Down 1-0 in the first half, the visiting Spartans replied with three goals, including what would be a back-breaking goal from Danielle Saucedo to Jamie Kurtz in the 39th minute, to hold on for a 3-2 win.
“It felt pretty good,” said Saucedo, who scored Greeley West’s second goal and assisted on her team’s other two. “I’m not going to lie. Yeah, we did really well.”
While the Spartans gear up for a Round 2 meetingFriday with No. 8 Mountain Range, 3-0 winners against Glenwood Springs, the Huskies, who entered the game with a perfect 15-0 mark, were left to ponder their third-consecutive early postseason exit on home turf.
“It’s kind of bittersweet that we lost. We should have come out harder,” Huskies captain Emily LyBarger said. “At the same time, we went 15-0 and that’s awesome. That’s something the younger girls can look to do, and hopefully get us off that postseason slump we have.
“There’s like a curse on us in the postseason.”
Doubtless, Battle Mountain and its fans will bat around theories, ranging from having to play 14 of 15 regular-season game in the weak 4A Slope to a possible curse during the summer, but Tuesday’s game was decided over a stretch of 10 minutes played late in the first half an early in the second.
With Greeley West leading 2-1, Huskies goalie Maddie Trtanj made a spectacular save on a breakaway by Spartans sophomore Lauren Sinnwell. While Trtanj and her defense had looked shaky on Greeley West’s first two goals, this was the sort of save, had the Huskies gotten to the half only down by one, that Battle Mountain would have looked back on and recognized as a possible turning point.
But the Spartans weren’t done. With time waning, Saucedo made a brilliant run down the right side and crossed the ball right into fellow sophomore Kurtz, who one-timed her shot perfectly under the crossbar for a 3-1 lead.
“It was a 10, definitely,” Saucedo said, describing the finish on a scale of 1-10. “Jamie came in and made a great finish.”
“From Day 1, we’ve been working on attacking the end line and playing the ball across the box,” Lordemann said. “For us to execute it and get it done, as a coach, you couldn’t be more pleased. It was great.”
And it was the momentum changer. A 2-1 game at halftime left Battle Mountain with a very reasonable chance to rally for a a win or to force overtime. A 3-1 game was a different story.
After a 5-0 season-opening loss at Fossil Ridge, the Spartans hadn’t allowed more than two goals in a game, much less a single half.
“It’s definitely a big goal because we needed to keep the lead in the second half just in case they scored in the second half, which they did,” Saucedo said. “It was a great goal. It helped us keep our lead and keep our wind.”
And for the Huskies, it was a reversal of fortune in the final minutes of a half. Battle Mountain’s biggest goal of the year came when Lizzie Seibert struck in the 78th minute of a 1-0 win against Steamboat Springs last month.
“The last couple minutes before the end of a half have been kind to us, specifically with the Steamboat goal. But today’s game it was a little bit harsh to us.”
Nevertheless, Battle Mountain threw the kitchen sink at Greeley West during the final 40 minutes. The Huskies’ Seibert scored in the 70th minute on an assist from Josie Tuthill, who had Battle Mountain’s first goal.
But it will be two clanks off the crossbar before the Huskies’ second goal which Battle Mountain will be hearing for a while. Three minutes into the second half, Seibert, who had 21 goals this season, struck a beautiful free kick from 25 yards out. Spartans goalie Jenna Droegemueller made a solid attempt at the shot, which eluded her, but not the top of the frame.
Thirteen minutes later, Marisa Ammaturo, who had 25 scores of her own, came off a short corner kick and went for her traditional far corner. It struck the iron instead.
“In the end the game can be cruel,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “On any other day, Lizzie’s free kick just drops under the cross bar and in. How many times this year have we seen Marisa put that short corner top corner?”
“Battle Mountain got some great looks in the second half and the one thing we also talk about as a team is that there are soccer gods,” Lordemann said. “The soccer gods always even things out. We’ve hit posts throughout the year and it hasn’t rewarded us. Now the soccer gods looked down on us and said, ‘There’s your break you get. We always even things out.'”
Things started well for Battle Mountain as Tuthill slipped one by Droegemueller’s near side for a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute. Greeley did rally behind Saucedo, a transfer who had to sit out the first half of the season.
“Since she came back, she’s given us that threat up top that we needed, that one player who could take on players,” Lordemann said. “That’s the one piece we were lacking. She’s been super.”
She fed Kelli Harden in the 20th minute and scored on an assist by Breckin Johnson in the 30th.
Those two goals marked the first time Battle Mountain had trailed all season ” a stunning stat for 2008 Huskies soccer is that the team never scored an equalizer all year, primarily because it team never trailed in any of its 14 Slope games or against Summit County.
Though the Huskies could not be faulted for their effort in trying to rally, Tuesday’s playoff loss marked the third time in as many years they went out in the first or second round either at Freedom Park or at the Vail Mountain School (Liberty, 2-0, 2006 and Golden, 5-0, 2007).
“I would say what if, but at the end of the day, it is what it is,” LyBarger said. “It didn’t go in.”
LyBarger dismissed that playing all but one game in the 4A Slope was a reason.
“I don’t think so because at the same time, we dominated this team. That’s not it,” she said. “It’s the mentality of it, knowing that they’re just going to better (teams), and we have to play better and play faster. It’s not the Western Slope necessarily, but it’s what we can do and what we can do to take it to them.”
“That’s a lot of pressure when it boils down to one game in a season,” Cope said. “I don’t think the girls should evaluate the experience on the outcome. That’s, I think, the biggest lesson that comes out of this experience. You’ve got value each day, the time you spend together, more than the outcome. The game doesn’t always turn out they way you want it to. You look at England which has won the World Cup once (1966) in my lifetime.”
Just for kicks
Greeley West’s Brittney Lordemann received a red card in the 79th minute and will be ineligible to play in Friday’s game against Mountain Range. Teammate Amity Miller took a yellow in the first half. “It’s tougher on Brittney,” coach Lordemann, aka Dad, said. “The call is the call. Whether you agree with it or not, it’s been made. The one thing we talked about is that we’re a team. We’ll have someone step up and take her spot.” … It was another rough day in the 4A Slope in the postseason. No. 25 Glenwood went down to No. 8 Mountain Range, 3-0, while No. 21 Steamboat Springs fell to No. 12 Cherokee Trail by the same count. … There were two other upsets Tuesday. No. 20 Pueblo West doubled up No. 13 Liberty, 2-1, while Longmont blanked D’Evelyn, 2-0, in the 16-17 game.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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