Huskies avoid drama, beat Rebels
EDWARDS – Battle Mountain girls’ soccer had worked on penalty kicks on Tuesday in preparation for Wednesday’s state playoff encounter with Denver South.No dramatic feats were needed as No. 6 Battle Mountain cruised to a 4-0 first-round win against No. 27 Denver South at Freedom Park. Not only did the Huskies advance to face Golden at home on Saturday, but they exorcised the demons of an opening round loss to Liberty last year.”It’s nice to get it under our belt, especially after last year,” said Julia Burnett who had two of Battle Mountain’s goals. “We had such a good team last year and it was really upsetting to lose in the first round. We made sure not to have any regrets. We left it all on the field.”Kelsey Sanders scored in the second minute. Lizzie Seibert finished it off after Burnett’s two and the Huskies’ defense held down the fort on the way to Battle Mountain’s first postseason win in two years.”They’ve had a great run this year and they’re a great group of girls,” Denver South coach Andy Fuentes said of his team. I enjoyed coaching them this year. I enjoyed watching them play. They just were outplayed today. (Battle Mountain) was a good squad. You could tell they’ve played a lot together. They deserve to move on. They dominated.”New rule?Sanders scored before most of the Battle Mountain student body got down to Freedom Park after the 3:45 p.m. bell went off. The senior took a beautiful through ball from Kelly Bowles for a breakaway and pounded it into the left side of the onion bag.
“She does a good job of finding me with through balls because she doesn’t kick it too far,” Sanders said. “She chips the ball, so it’s easier for me to get a touch.””It felt good to score in the first 90 seconds,” Huskies coach David Cope said in a mild understatement. “We kind of like it when we start with a goal advantage. That should be one of the new rules. Good finish by Kels, I thought.”Scoring early definitely pumped the Huskies up, but it wasn’t the free pass many thought. Fuentes said after the game that his Rebels had overcome 1-0 leads three times to win this season.Further, it was almost a little too easy for Battle Mountain.”It did two things. It settled everybody in, but we thought that was the answer,” Cope said. “We tried to unlock the box the same way every single time for the rest of the half. I thought we became a little one-dimensional because of that success.”Big games, big playersBattle Mountain was not as organized offensively as it could have been for the rest of the first half, but still produced scoring chances. The Huskies cashed in when Sanders got the ball in the box and rattled it around to Burnett. No. 14 finished, giving the Huskies a 2-0 lead, going into the break.
The Huskies ended any hopes of an upset bid by Denver South with two quick goals in the 54th and 55th minute. Burnett blew by a Rebels defender and smacked the right panel for a 3-0 advantage. A minute later, Marisa Ammaturo to Lizzie Seibert put things out of reach.”The third goal is what hurt (us),” Fuentes said. “The fourth goal shortly after that devastated us. You could tell we got a little nervous after that. Like I said, we’re a young team. We’ll be back next year.”With two from Burnett and one from Sanders, the Dynamic Duo produced in a big way when it counted.”When you look at teams that go deep into tournaments, they have special players who play well in big games,” Cope said.De-fenseWhile Battle Mountain’s philosophy is that 11 players help score a goal and the same 11 allow one, goalie Kori Landauer as well as back liners Nichols, Jamie Lee Roberts and McKenzie Stevens were stout all game.”I thought we were superb defensively,” Cope said. “Kori was organizing well in the back. Jamie Lee and McKenzie were phenomenal. And Syd is the fulcrum of all of that.”
While the game was never doubt, the Huskies defense wanted to preserve its 12th shutout of the season.”It’s amazing,” Nichols said. “It feels good to shut out a team, especially in the playoffs. It’s not very common. It’s a reflection of our entire team.”Golden opportunityNo. 11 Golden bounced No. 22 Thompson Valley, 5-1, Wednesday to make it a date with the Huskies in the second round Saturday.The Demons are just fine by Sanders.”I really want to play them,” she said.Apparently Sanders and the Huskies’ other seniors have not forgotten that they were eliminated by the Demons in the second round of the 2005 playoffs.
The rematch will be either at Freedom Park or at the Vail Mountain School at a time to be determined today. The Eagle County Lax Jam has Freedom Park booked for most of Saturday, causing the lack of specificity.In the meantime, the Huskies are happy that the season continues.”Only 16 teams practice tomorrow,” Cope said.Just for kicksGianbottiglio went to Seibert. Stevens got the Defensive Rock. … Battle Mountain had a busy day on and off the field. Six of the Huskies also took their AP calculus exams Wednesday. … Battle Mountain’s crowd was large and loud. “It was so cool,” Burnett said. “You could practically see our whole school, all these parents and grandmothers and neighbors, just the whole community … and Emily’s team. It’s great to see the support we’ve had throughout the community.” Emily’s team is the club soccer team which includes Emily Quinn Cope, the 9-year-old daughter of the coach. Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.