Huskies finish 14-0-1, await draw
DELTA – Pick a number, any number, preferably Nos. 2-8.The Battle Mountain girls’ soccer team did what it could to state its case with a 5-1 win at Delta Tuesday to finish the regular season with a 14-0-1 record, the first Huskies soccer team to finish without a loss.The state’s 4A teams have until Friday to complete their slates, and the playoff bracket comes out Sunday on chsaa.org. The 4A Slope champions long ago qualified for the 32-team field. It’s just a question of what seed.”We’re not counting our chickens until we see the number on Sunday,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “We said to the team, ‘Be prepared to travel. Be prepared to be home.’ We’ll see how it works out.”Likely home for Round 1Even if one counts the litany of perceived seeding slights against Battle Mountain soccer with either the boys’ or girls’ teams, it is hard to imagine that the Huskies will be on the road for Round 1 either on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.Battle Mountain is ranked No. 5 in The Denver Post poll and No. 6 by the Rocky Mountain News. Both papers have had the Huskies in the top eight from the beginning of the season. The Huskies would have to drop to No. 17 or worse, a bizarre enough turn even by CHSAA standards, not to be home for the opening round.If CHSAA agrees with the Front Range papers on Sundays, a seed between Nos. 5-8 means that Battle Mountain would be home for the first two rounds of the playoffs.Cope believes that his team with just a tie against 14 wins should land in the top four, which would keep Battle Mountain in Edwards through the quarterfinals. Battle Mountain would only be on the road at Englewood High School, a neutral site, for the semifinals and finals, if the Huskies advanced.”I’ve always believed philosophically that if you’re unbeaten, you should be in the top four,” Cope said.The Huskies do have a case when it comes to cracking the top four. Aside from Niwot which will likely take the No. 1 seed, the Huskies are the only team without a loss in 4A. Helping Battle Mountain’s cause is that Cheyenne Mountain, ranked No. 2 in the Rocky and No. 1 in the Post, lost to D’Evelyn earlier this week.There’s also the issue of previous postseason performance, which goes both ways for Battle Mountain. Two years ago, the Huskies were No. 10, advanced to the second round before losing at No. 7 Golden, 3-2, a credible showing. Last year, Battle Mountain drew No. 15, only to loose to No. 18 Liberty, 2-0, at home.Another strike against Huskies is the Western Slope. While Battle Mountain and Steamboat Springs battle each other in good games, the conference is not nearly as deep as others like the Northern League. Further by having to play 14 of their 15 regular-season games within the Slope, the Huskies have little opportunity to play games against other teams around the state.Of course, all of this is speculation until the bracket comes out Sunday. Top four, top eight or on the road, Cope wants his team to be ready for any outcome.”If we get a high number, we can’t be disappointed,” Cope said. “If we get a really low number and we’re near the top, you can’t feel like the job’s done. It’s all about going into the playoffs and living up to your seed or surpassing it.”Cake timeBefore Battle Mountain soccer enrolled in an advanced bracketology course, the ladies had to take care of business Tuesday. With a uncommon 11 a.m. start on a weekday because Delta also had a track meet scheduled, the Huskies had to leave Eagle-Vail at 7 a.m.”We had a good start, but it was a little bit panicky getting down there, closer to kickoff than we wanted to,” Cope said. “We didn’t have our normal walk, and it was hotter than blazes. We were a little nervous about how we would react.”A 2-0 lead five minutes into the game likely soothed everybody’s nerves. Kelsey Sanders fed Lizzie Seibert and the two switched roles on Battle Mountain’s second.Sanders had her hat trick by the 27th minute with helpers going to Julia Burnett and Emily LyBarger. After Delta scored on a Sam Wood penalty kick, Huskies freshman Marisa Ammaturo ended the scoring.Battle Mountain celebrated its 14-0-1 regular season with a cake with the team’s record in icing on top.”I think it’s great,” Cope said. “You can always slip up somewhere along the way. You have a day when your concentration’s not there or you have injuries. That never happened. Everybody stuck to the task. We just wanted to go in with a clean slate.”The Defensive Rock went to Sydney Nichols, while McKenzie Stevens earned Gianbottiglio.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.