Huskies down Glenwood, clinch playoffs
EDWARDS — You could have seen this coming.
In the fall, Valentina Montenegro was playing volleyball and reflexively one-timed the ball over the net with her right ankle during a rally.
Huskies soccer coach David Cope was there, and it was only a matter of time before the foreign exchange student from Chile got a soccer shirt.
Montenegro scored twice, including a highlight reel goal, while Emily Cope continued to march toward a historic career milestone as the Huskies took care of Glenwood Springs, 6-2, on Thursday to clinch a playoff spot.
“I’m so excited,” Montenegro said. “It’s a great team. It’s really welcoming. I really like to be around this team.”
Bump, set, spike?
And the Huskies were certainly happy to have her on Thursday. Emily Cope set Montenegro up in the 47th minute. And 18 minutes later, Montenegro delivered the coup de grace.
Mallory Skidmore delivered a beautiful corner and Montenegro soared into the air and one-timed it home with her head.
Interestingly enough, Montenegro only played organized soccer five years ago on a team in Chile. Volleyball is her sport, and she views soccer through that frame.
“I feel it’s like volleyball,” Montenegro said. “It’s like the setter hits it, and I follow the ball and I hit it.”
Battle Mountain (10-2 overall and 9-1 in the Western Slope) will go with it.
An exclusive club
Montenegro also had an assist, helping A.J. Davies to the first goal of the game. In the second half, Cope started taking over with two assists and two goals.
That gives her 39 goals and 40 assists in her career. She leads Battle Mountain in helpers, three ahead of Acacia Ortiz and Julia Burnett, who both finished with 37.
But can Cope become Battle Mountain’s first 40-40 player? The closest was Burnett, who had 56 goals and 37 assists, playing with her friend, and soccer soul mate Kelsey Sanders (69-29).
While both Emily and coach David Cope and the rest of the Huskies are focused on all things team-oriented, No. 5 has three regular-season games and at least one playoff game to do it.
“We’ve got a garage door that doesn’t fit right because she’s bashed it in so many times,” coach Cope joked.
Breaking at the right time
This was Battle Mountain’s first home game since a win against Palisade on April 2 and the Huskies look a lot different.
“I think we’ve changed out tactics and we’ve changed to the team. You have to adapt to what the team does,” Cope said. “I think we had to get out from under the shadows of a great graduating class. Players had to grow into their roles and identities. And we had to clarify those roles. When you have all those goal scorers graduating, everybody wants to fill those shoes, but not everybody can. There were a lot of puzzle pieces that had to be moved around a bit.”
It’s looking good right now to the tune of six straight wins.
If there was one negative, then it was that defender Skye Whitney went down with a hip injury.
“Hopefully, this comes at the best time for he,” Cope said. “She’s been a rock for us in the midfield. She’s been a stalwart for us.”
She has 10 days to rest up because Battle Mountain soccer is on spring break. The Huskies are next in action when they host Steamboat Springs on May 2 in a rather large game.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.