Huskies, Gore Rangers get soccer-playoff draws
The Huskies have been waiting for this since a brutal loss to Standley Lake last November. The Gore Rangers have been waiting for this since the state semifinals last fall.
It’s playoff time and Battle Mountain and Vail Mountain School soccer are ready to go.
The Huskies (13-2) are ranked No. 9 in the 4A playoffs and host Fort Morgan at 5 p.m., while the Gore Rangers (12-3) are the No. 4 seed in the 3A bracket and face Sheridan on Friday at 1 p.m. in East Vail.
First off, you’re probably getting your Forts confused. Fort Lupton knocked off the Huskies in the 2013 playoffs. This is Fort Morgan. Morgan actually beat Lupton on the final day of the season in the Fort Bowl to qualify for the playoffs.
Battle Mountain finished No. 9 in the rating-percentage, just a 100th-of-a-point behind No. 8 Silver Creek.
“We wanted to be in the top 10,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “And we’re in the mix. In the end I think our loss to Eagle Valley cost us.”
That, boys and girls, is an excellent verbal dodge by the coach. Truth be told, Battle Mountain likely got jobbed by having to play every team in the Western Slope twice, lowering its opponents’ winning percentage in the RPI.
Lest anyone think that this is hometown bellyaching, there are nine leagues in Class 4A and only two play home-and-home within league play — the Western Slope and the Tri-Valley. In a related development, anyone want to guess which two leagues had the fewest invitees to the postseason? Yes, that would be the Slope (the Huskies and Steamboat Springs) and the Tri-Valley (Windsor and Skyline).
Speaking of Steamboat Springs, the winner of Battle Mountain-Fort Morgan plays the winner of Steamboat at Silver Creek. Of course, while no one is looking ahead, the Huskies would love to see the Sailors pull the upset, setting up Round 3 of the rivalry in Round 2 of the playoffs in Edwards on Tuesday.
Battle Mountain isn’t looking ahead because of last year’s nightmarish departure from the playoffs. For those who have rightly repressed that 3-1 defeat to Standley Lake during the quarterfinals, the Huskies managed to shoot themselves in the foot in just about every way imaginable.
“It’s given us some wisdom about the playoffs, some understanding of how quickly it can end,” Cope said. “In the end, it’s a benefit for this year’s team.”
This year’s team comes into the playoffs on a roll, having won nine straight. The Huskies are balanced offensively with three nine-goal scorers — Cody Bahan, Juan Macias and Creek Kamby — along with Miles Joersz (six). The defense has also settled in well after being torched in a 6-0 loss to No. 3 The Classical Academy, recording six shutouts during the last nine.
Deja vu, anyone?
Vail Mountain enters as the No. 4 seed in 3A, just like last year. The Gore Rangers are hosting a mini-regional Friday and Saturday, just like last year. If they advance through this weekend, the quarterfinals will be at Bandoni Alumni Field, and we’ll just assume that snow’s in the forecast. And, if VMS is fortunate enough to make the semifinals, perhaps, the team will run into Kent Denver, just like last year.
There is one big difference.
“They all understand that there are 13 seniors on this team and this is it. For those 13 seniors, this is the last playoff run,” VMS coach Pete Petrovski said. “They’re willing to battle through everything. They’re willing to give everything they’ve got.”
Just like Cope, Petrovski deftly avoided talking about the quirks of RPI, say, like how Colorado Academy snagged the No. 3 seed, despite the fact that No. 4 VMS beat C.A., 2-0.
“We have no argument,” he said. “They’re a great team.”
The focus starts with Sheridan on Friday, which will be followed by Peak to Peak against Delta with the winners of the two games meeting on Saturday at 1 p.m. at The Bob.
“They’re excited about it,” Petrovski said. “But at the same time they realize that nothing is given. We have to earn the right to get back (to the semifinals). Our only shot is to win three games. All the teams are going to be good.”
And while the Gore Rangers will not, by CHSAA rule, even be allowed to wear orange shorts, Friday is an official orange day in East Vail.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.