Here we go again: Devils-Huskies soccer, Round 2
To quote the great Yogi Berra, it’s like deja vu all over again.
Battle Mountain soccer hosts Eagle Valley tonight at 6 in Edwards, most likely needing a win to take the 4A Slope title on the last day of the regular season. (There are other permutations with the Battle Mountain-Eagle Valley and Moffat County at Steamboat Springs games – being played at the same time tonight – which could turn out fine for the Huskies, but the easiest scenario is just winning for David Cope’s crew.)
One does not need an exceptionally long memory to remember we’ve been here, done that. Oct. 22, 2009, the last time the season ended with the Huskies and Devils in Edwards, Eagle Valley forged a scoreless draw and that sent the title to Steamboat.
A few thoughts on tonight’s game:
• The Devils are 4-10 and will not be in the playoffs. Thus, this is Eagle Valley’s World Cup, state-title game etc. Jason Rittmiller’s squad will be geared up to spoil Battle Mountain’s season. And, please remember, the Huskies escaped by the skin of their teeth from Round 1 last month in Gypsum, a 2-1 overtime win with both goals coming from a guy who’s no longer with the Huskies. Eagle Valley can win this game. It would be an upset, but not a surprising one.
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• If I’m Eagle Valley, I pack it in defensively. The Huskies will likely go with their traditional 3-5-2 formation. I’m seeing an 8-2 for the Devils. Yep, Nestor and Kevin Escobar up top in our exciting alignment and everyone else back. The longer Eagle Valley keeps this thing tied or close, the more the Battle Mountain presses forward and, maybe, panics. (You think this can’t happen? Cope sent so many players forward in the second half of the 2009 game, I nearly played.)
As the Huskies send more and more forward, the greater the chance is for a counterattack. A lot of people forget that the Devils’ Nate Barker had a beauty of scoring opportunity late in the 2009 game. Eagle Valley probably likes its chances with the Escobars in a similar situation.
• There’s been a lot of pride in Battle Mountain’s camp about the team’s ability to come back from an early goal. The Huskies would be well-advised not to try this tonight. As wonderful as the comebacks have been, from a black-and-gold point of view, one can only go to that well so often. (If the Devils do get an early goal, do they go to a 10-0 formation?)
This is a way of saying Battle Mountain needs to put this one away early, pop three goals in the first 20-25 minutes and then Cope can sub to his heart’s delight. Of course, it’s hard to score three goals with one shot, so the Huskies shouldn’t press. Battle Mountain has the home pitch and needs to use every bit of the 80 yards of width in Edwards, unlike, say, the team’s 1-1 tie against Glenwood Springs.
• And don’t forget, soccer’s a funny game. Absolutely anything can – and often does – happen. The spotlight has a weird way of finding the unlikeliest of people. Should be fun.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.