Eight is not enough: Huskies trounce Summit
Cope wins No. 300
EDWARDS — The basic rundown: Battle Mountain soccer dropped a four-spot on Summit during the first half on its way to 7-0 win Thursday and an 8-0 record in 2021.
First and foremost, ladies and germs, Huskies coach David Cope earned the 300th win of his boys’ soccer coaching career. Perhaps the dude from England who was left in the car in a parking lot of Wembley Stadium when he was 6-months-old while his parents watched the 1966 England-West Germany World Cup final knows what the heck he is doing. (Spoiler alert: England won, 4-2, behind the historic hat trick of Geoff Hurst.)
After slower starts against Steamboat Springs and Glenwood Springs, Battle Mountain looked crisp in tempo and execution. The Huskies, who are understandably looking for some motivation, put away the Tigers in the first 20 minutes. That is what a playoff team with major aspirations should do to a struggling side.
“That was a very good first 20 minutes,” Mr. 300 said. “We were sharp, moving the ball well. Regardless of whatever the scoreboard said, the quality of play was much higher.”
Perhaps, the most exciting thing to happen was that Battle Mountain midfielder Louis Castillo played the first 25 minutes on Thursday with a return appearance in the second half as he returns from an ankle injury which was meant to sideline him for the entirety of Season C.
Support Local Journalism
Look for Castillo to play the first half Tuesday up in Steamboat Springs, followed likely by about a 60-minute outing Thursday in the regular-season finale against Eagle Valley. The general hope is that Castillo is able to play a full game by April 21, which would be the first round of the 4A playoffs.
The bigger question …
As Battle Mountain continues to rampage in the Western Slope — the Huskies had outscored their opponents, 40-1, before Thursday’s shellacking — the question remains: How good are the Huskies?
They’re obviously the best team in the Slope. But what about defending state champion Skyview or Windsor, Niwot, Regis or, say, The Classical Academy?
History says they’re in the mix. Battle Mountain obviously has a favorable history with TCA. And while that is cherry-picking a specific result, Battle Mountain rarely gets smacked in the postseason — ahem, 2018 first round; we shall never speak of that again — so the Huskies should be able to play with elite 4A teams, whatever the bracket. But we want certainty, right?
Look for the smaller things.
Cope has two items on his brain as he’s watching his team prepare for the playoffs.
“The first thing is the rotation of positioning between players,” Cope said. “You’re not so concerned with yourself and the ball, but you’re concerned with spacing and coverage. The second is speed of play. Obviously the two go together.
“We’re not talking speed of running, but decision making. Can you make an early decision and execute it?”
To that end
In Thursday’s game:
• Braulio Aguayo scored the Huskies first goal on a slick pass across the box from Leo Soto.
Yes, it was a pretty goal. What was even prettier was that Sam Koontz was on Soto’s right, making a beautiful run of his own.
Aguayo didn’t need Koontz on the play, but he had the option. Creating multiple options on scoring opportunities is a reassuring sign that, indeed, Battle Mountain is playing well, regardless of the caliber of the opposition.
While Koontz didn’t get an assist there, he did score the second goal, rightly getting his name on the scoresheet.
• Goal Nos. 3 and 4 were textbook. Cope preaches, “Get to the end line and cut it back.” That is Battle Mountain soccer scripture.
Bryant Ramirez from Josh Keiser and Miles Jarnott from Kevin Chavez were just that.
“It’s a nice easy tap-in on the back post,” Jarnott said of his goal. “That’s Cope’s favorite way to score. It’s easy: Put it on the ground to someone’s feet.”
To be honest, a player like Chavez could likely get the ball somewhere near the center line, go straight up the middle of the pitch, beat a few defenders and score the highlight-reel goal.
The Huskies are sticking to the system, even when the opponent doesn’t require it. That’s a disciplined, focused team.
• The subs are good. Battle Mountain led 4-0 at the half, by which time Cope was substituting liberally. In the second half, the “scrubs,” and we use that term very loosely, were playing without a loss of intensity.
Of course, Battle Mountain’s bench players probably would be starting for other Slope teams. It’s hard to crack the starting lineup on this team and the competition within is pushing the Huskies against opponents.
“I think it’s from the past times when we’ve lost in the playoffs,” junior Joseph Fernandez said. “We want to get better as a team.”