Huskies girls’ soccer takes its turn
EAGLE-VAIL – Your turn, ladies.The Battle Mountain girls’ soccer team has watched as their male counterparts won the 4A Slope title in the fall. The team has watched the cross country teams, boys’ basketball and hockey all win titles.The ladies are ready to keep the good times rolling – and they start today at Freedom Park in Edwards against Summit at 3 p.m. “Being a spring sport, they’ve waited all year for their season to start,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “They’ve seen the success of boys’ soccer. They’ve seen Erika Ghent (and the girls’ cross country team) win state. They’ve seen the volleyball girls do so well. Most of them traveled to Mesa (State) to see the basketball team (in the playoffs) and they’ve seen the hockey team in the semifinals. So, they’re chomping at the bit to continue the success.”The Huskies are certainly in a good position to continue the trend. The Huskies return a host of talent and experience from a team which went 14-3 in 2005, a year in which Battle Mountain challenged Steamboat Springs for the league title and made the Sweet 16.
“I feel like we have something to live up to,” Huskies midfielder Kate Van Hee said. “It’s kind of our turn. We’ve watched the successes of other teams throughout the year. I think it’s definitely time for us.””I’m so excited,” defensive veteran Morgan Wallace said. “I think that a lot of people have a lot of faith in us. I have faith in our team. I honestly think that it is in reach to be up there with all those teams. It’s just going to take a lot of hard work.”The hard work comes early. Battle Mountain busts out of the gate with four games in the first nine days of the season. It’s Summit today, county rival Eagle Tuesday, at Moffat County Thursday, and nine days from now, the Sailors come calling.Got goals?There is no lack of punch at the top end of Cope’s 4-4-2 scheme. Battle Mountain’s three strikers – Kelsey Sanders, Julia Burnett and Nicole Penwill – combined for 28 goals last year as sophomores.
Throw in a loaded midfield, steeped in experience and talent – Steph Walker, Ghent, Emily LyBarger and Van Hee – and Battle Mountain should be controlling the tempo of a lot of its games.”I think our transitions are really good. I think our team is solid right now. We’re reading each other very well. From the midfield to the forwards, we’ve always had a good connection, especially with Kelsey and Jules. They’re easy to play with. I can know where they are and how to play the ball.””That should be where a lot of good decisions are made by our players,” Cope said. “There’s a ton of experience, so hopefully they can steady the ship, and keep the ball. It’s hard for the other team to score when you have the ball. I figured that one out. It only took a few years.”This also points out another one of the team’s strengths, coaching. With strategies like that, there no question why Cope has won Coach of the Year in the Slope the last three seasons – boys or girls.
De-fenseBattle Mountain’s back line is equally strong. Christina Harrison, Wallace and Christen Madison return, and are joined by Sydney Nichols. Kelly Van Hee and Caroline Gallegos also figure in the action here.”It’s great to know you have experience back there,” Wallace said. “Three of those four that are back there I’ve been playing with for as long as I can remember. We understand each other. We communicate well. And Sydney’s back there. She’s improved a lot, and I have a lot of confidence in her and our defense.”The only question mark is goaltending. Alexis Guinn and Killion Hunn have graduated. It’s up to sophomores Kori Landauer and Kaity Plath. Cope says the two will likely split today’s game and then he’ll figure it out as the season progresses.”They’ve worked really hard. We’ve had a goalkeeper coach working with them, Jenelle Ferri,” Cope said. “She’s done a great job working with them. Both those girls are athletic. They’re both good field players. I always think that’s a good starting place for a goalkeeper. I discourage kids from specializing in goalkeeping too young.”
The year?There is no looking ahead when it comes to the schedule. Summit is Battle Mountain’s only nonconference game of the season. Eagle Valley figures to be much-improved and in the hunt with Glenwood Springs and Steamboat for the league championship. Before the Sailors, the Huskies have a tough trip to Moffat.Yet after losing, 1-0, on a penalty kick at Steamboat to fall short of the Slope title last year, the Huskies are quietly confident that they can make a run.”Obviously, we have huge respect for Steamboat and all the success they’ve had, especially with (their) particular group coming in. … It’s going to be really exciting,” Cope said. “We’re getting closer and closer. Obviously, the 1-0 loss on the P.K. in second half for the league title, our girls realize the margin of victory is that close.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 14630 or firstname.lastname@example.org.