Huskies double up Devils, 4-2
GYPSUM – Both the Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley soccer teams greeted their cheering fans after Thursday night’s game at Hot Stuff Stadium. Huskies’ fans cheered their team’s 4-2 win over Eagle Valley.Devils’ fans cheered their team spirited and much-improved play against the top team in the 4A Slope.”Obviously, Battle Mountain’s a good team. Regardless of who we’re playing, we measure ourselves to them because they’re the standard, but we’ve come a long way,” Devils coach Chad Sloniker said. “I think the fans saw. I think the guys felt it and I think Battle Mountain saw it, too. Our expectations are set higher now.”Battle Mountain’s expectations are sky high as defending league champions, so they weren’t as pleased with the win, given that the Huskies had defeated the Devils, 4-0, in Eagle-Vail earlier this month.
“We didn’t play our best, but we scrapped it out,” Huskies goalie Josh Ruark said. “That’s what matters. Winning on the road, it’s a tough place to play. We definitely like to play wide and spread it out. But, we’ve had to learn to play on football fields before and we’re going to have to do it again.””Two 4-2s in a row. That’s the score of the week,” said Huskies coach David Cope, whose team defeated Glenwood Springs Tuesday by the same count. “There was bound to be a slight lull from the Glenwood game. It’s hard to generate that kind of energy and emotion twice in 48 hours. Having said that, I think they dealt well with the field and the other team and the crowd and showed some composure.”Huskies take the leadAs was the case in the first meeting between the two teams, the Huskies started slow, but got on the board first. In the 23rd minute, Gustavo Bronfield ripped a 27-yarder that clipped the left panel for the first half’s only score.
Joel Gonzales slammed a penalty kick past Eagle Valley’s Mauricio Lagos in the 53rd minute, but Eagle Valley responded. The Devils’ Wes Minett took a pass from John Gabriel and put it by Ruark. It was the first goal Ruark has allowed this year.Six minutes later, Edgar Hernandez scored a gorgeous goal. He took a bad clear from an Eagle Valley player and rifled his shot 35 yards into the top of the net. Lagos, who had an outstanding game for the Devils, simply had no chance on the shot.Down 3-1, Eagle Valley showed its resilience as Gabriel fed Jaime Fernandez to halve the lead. But Battle Mountain, as good teams do, closed the door just seconds later as Francisco Rojas, on a pass from Jose Pavon, iced the game.”Words can’t even explain. I’m so proud of these guys,” Sloniker said. “Obviously, kudos to Battle Mountain for coming in. Every time got one, they came back and scored in five minutes, I think, and broke our back. But we didn’t quit. That’s a sign of a good team.””It was great to see (us) score goal right after they did,” Cope said. “That’s a characteristic of our guys. The first five minutes after a goal, they kind of bear down and play pretty well.”
Next gamesNext up for Eagle Valley (1-5-1 in the Slope and 2-5-1 overall) is a roadie at Moffat Saturday. And, the Devils have lots of motivation. Not only do they want to avenge a 5-3 loss at home, but with the Slope and absolute jumble below Battle Mountain and Glenwood, Eagle Valley has a shot at the playoffs if it makes a run in the second half of the season.”I think our guys are starting to believe that we can play,” Sloniker said. “We’ve got a bone to pick with Moffat. We lost to them, 5-3, even though we dominated the game. From this point on, we’ve got a point to prove to ourselves that we should be winning more games.”Cope agrees.
“From the first time we’ve played them, the difference is night and day,” he said. “They’ve got a bunch of talented kids. They’re well coached and they just don’t give up as we saw tonight. I’d love to see them make the playoffs.”Battle Mountain (6-0, 7-0) has a little bit of revenge on its mind when it heads to Alexander Dawson Saturday. The 3A Mustangs handed Battle Mountain one of its two regular season losses last year and it was a costly one. The loss likely dropped the Huskies, who had been ranked in the top 10 for most of the season, to the dreaded 16th spot when the state bracket came out. “I think there’s a lot of motivation on the part of our boys,” Cope said. “They know the importance of it seeding-wise and it’s a chance to go down on a nice field and play a quality opponent. The boys are really excited for it.”And, we’re pretty sure Cope would take a 4-2 win.Sports editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555 or via firstname.lastname@example.org.Vail, Colorado