End of the road for Huskies soccer
BROOMFIELD – Whatever happened to Battle Mountain soccer Wednesday night wasn’t about to put a damper on a spectacular season.The No. 9 Huskies entered their 4A state quarterfinal match the with a 13-2-1 record and a third consecutive Western Slope title. But a 16-0-1 Broomfield team, carrying the No. 1 seed, proved too much for the Huskies to handle.”If it takes a team of that quality to end our season, we’ll take that,” said Huskies soccer coach David Cope. “In the end, our group overachieved.”Battle Mountain held on for the first half, and trailed 2-0 at the break, but Broomfield moved away in the final 40 minutes to win 5-0 and come one step closer to defending its state title.”The thing that was good for us tonight is that Battle Mountain has a good team and forced us to be in the game all night,” said Broomfield coach Jim Davidson. “When you win 10-0 (in the first round), and 10-0 (in the second), and then you are in a match, the mentality changes a little bit. They forced us to play 80 minutes.”After the Eagles went up by two goals in the 28th minute, the Huskies pressured for the remainder of the half and earned several free kick opportunities. Broomfield’s Nathan Kafer would put the game out of reach in the 44th minute with his second goal of the game.
“I thought we competed pretty well, and if we could have nicked (a goal) the in the first half, it would have been different,” Cope said. Even in the final minutes while trailing by five, the Huskies used several good touches and put a few solid shots on the Broomfield net.”I’m so proud of this team,” said Huskies’ co-captain Erik Garcia. “All 50 guys. From the JVs to the freshman.””This is a good group of kids who came to play us,” Davidson said. “They work hard and have amazing spirit.”Their own yearMuch like the Battle Mountain seniors, Cope was sad to see such a thrilling run come to an end.
“I’ve said it to this group three or four times this year – I’ve never been as proud of a team for the things they did,” Cope said. “Nick Hand’s goal, coming back against Rifle when they were down, 2-0, the Glenwood (wins), the Steamboat win. That (5-3 win) against Conifer (in the second round) was one of the best games I’ve seen.”It’s amazing when you have a season that produces half a dozen moments you’ll remember for 10 to 20 years. And they’re disappointed because it’s over, not because they didn’t achieve the level they should have.”For a squad composed of nearly all first-year starters, the Huskies played with composure in tight games during the regular season and playoffs.”This is a special group. We only brought back two starters from last year,” Cope said. “A lot of kids have been waiting four years to play in the playoffs.”Flawless strikesThe Eagles’ high-powered offense put heavy pressure on the Huskies’ backline early. Battle Mountain keeper D.J. Van Curan came up with big saves all night, but Broomfield forwards bent balls into the corners that few professional goalies could have thwarted.
“They didn’t disappoint, that’s for sure,” Cope said of Broomfield. “That’s a really good team, and they are really well-coached. Some of their players are spectacular. Kafer’s finishing and Ryan Aweida – you can’t say enough about him.”Aweida got things rolling for the Eagles in the 15th minute when Kafer feed him a ball at the top of the Huskies’ box. Immediately after he collected the pass, Aweida slammed a left-footed shot into the right corner of the net.Kafer’s first goal came in the 28th minute, when a Broomfield defender headed a Huskies’ goal kick back deep into the Battle Mountain end. Kafer snuck behind the Huskies’ defense and played the ball past Van Curan. On his second goal, Kafer flew down the right side of the field and launched a ball from outside the box into the left corner.Only minutes later, Van Curan came up with a huge diving save on a low shot. Van Curan finished the night with 16 stops.In the 55th minute, the Eagles’ Ryan Garren got a hold of a ball following a corner kick and sent it off the outside of his right foot, bending the shot just inside the left post. Aside from the Eagles’ fourth goal, the Huskies did a great job of defending corners and deep throw-ins on a narrow field.”We defended pretty well and competed,” Cope said. “But part of it is the pressure on the ball is so much greater than we’re used to facing. There are athletic players in 11 positions. They are closing us down that much quicker and accelerating the pace of game.”
“They are a great team. I think they’ll win the finals,” Garcia said. “They are physical, but play simple ball.”When Battle Mountain walked off the field, it didn’t quite mark the end of the season – there was a still a postgame celebration at the Old Chicago Restaurant.”We’ll do that traditional game on the way home where you write out your starting lineup for the first game of next year,” Cope said. “But for a couple hours after, we’ll savor the season for a bit.”Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado