Huskies down Sailors, 4-0; clinch title Thursday
EDWARDS — He’s Juanito to his friends on the Battle Mountain soccer team, but he stood tall for the Huskies on Thursday night.
Juan Macias logged a hat trick and teammate Danny Barajas added the last score as Battle Mountain surged to a 4-0 win over archrival Steamboat Springs on Thursday night in Edwards to clinch the 4A Slope title.
“It felt great to score those three goals, but it feels even better to win league with the team,” Macias said. “I was just happy to contribute.”
The Huskies (13-2 overall and 11-1 in the Slope) won their second straight Slope crown and 10th in the past 13 years.
“History is nice for coaches and people around the school, but each year is its own journey,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “Each year is better taken off in isolation. You see the journey. This was great journey. For us to lose the first game of the league and then rattle off 11 in row, that’s pretty remarkable. I thought our group showed so much character.”
Battle Mountain accepted the championship plaque at midfield after the match, and in an act of excellent sportsmanship, Steamboat Springs (11-4, 9-3) applauded.
PK or not?
Though the score indicates a rout, it was not. This was a scoreless affair until the 58th minute when Battle Mountain’s Creek Kamby and Steamboat Springs’ goalie and Andrew McCawley went down in a heap in the Sailors’ box.
Depending on one’s partisanship, it was either a rough and tumble play between two players going for the ball or it was the goalie, as the last defender, taking down an attacker.
While there will be no agreement between Huskies and Sailors fans on that question, the referee ruled the later, and gave Battle Mountain a penalty kick. Macias converted and he was beginning a big night.
“We thought the Steamboat boys were very good tonight, the first (55 minutes),” Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann said. “Obviously, with their first goal, that was a momentum changer. Battle Mountain is such a good team. They’re going to respond quickly to that. They did a nice job of that and we congratulate them as league champions.”
The Huskies took that momentum and ran with it. A minute later Barajas to Macias made it 2-0. Macias completed his hat trick on an assist from Cody Bahan and the Huskies were on their way.
Both teams are going to the playoffs, which start on Wednesday, by virtue of finishing in the top two spots of the league. The question is seed. Going into Thursday night’s action, the Huskies were No. 12 in the rating-percentage index, or all-important RPI, while Steamboat was ranked 22nd.
While the RPI is new system for sports in general, Cope speculated that both teams should jump a spot or two given that Thursday’s tilt should raise both squads’ opponents’ winning percentage, which makes up 50 percent of RPI.
“I think we move up from 12 maybe to 10 or nine,” Cope said. “Eight would be awesome. We’re sort of in eight-nine mix.”
Bohlmann was more philosophical, as is typical for him.
“We’re anticipating we’ll be on the road. We’ve been successful on the road — that’s a big part of the goals we set (this year),” he said. “Hey, you get in the playoffs; the reality is that it comes down to you. Most likely, you get matched up with an opponent you don’t know. You focus on yourself.”
Thursday was also Senior Night for the Huskies. The Class of 2017 for boys soccer includes Miguel Alvarez, Ernesto Rascon, Aaron Ledezma, Miles Joersz, Brandon Rodriguez, Bahan, Efren Ortega, David Barajas, Kamby, Frankie Carrillo, Daniel Ortega, Erik Solis, Taylor Staughton, Scott Swimm and Javier Garcia.
“It’s just so much fun, great team, great environment,” Swimm said. “It’s so much fun getting up everyday and getting to play soccer. I can’t express how excited I am (for playoffs). We’ve got some tough games ahead of us.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.