Huskies knock off Silver Creek, 2-1, Tuesday; Solis has the game-winner
LONGMONT — Battle Mountain soccer went to the windswept plains so it could come home again, which makes perfect sense.
Huskies soccer topped Silver Creek, 2-1, Tuesday night at Longmont’s Everly-Montgomery Stadium, which was its first road playoff victory since Nov. 1, 2012 — yep, four years to the day.
“It’s an amazing win,” Huskies goalie Alan Villegas said. “Our team was playing great. We know we can make it. We just have to go one step at a time.”
The win on Nov. 1, 2012 was marked by great goaltending — Christian Espinoza almost singlehandedly won the shootout against Evergreen in those quarterfinals in 2012, and Villegas stood on his head as well with two fantastic saves in the second half against Silver Creek.
“Four years to the day of the win against Evergreen. Awesome,” said Huskies coach David Cope, who saw his 2012 team run the table to the state title. “This group has some of that spirit of that group, where everyone has bought in.”
And, while the No. 9–seed Huskies beating the No. 8 Raptors is an upset, it wasn’t as big as No. 17 D’Evelyn toppling No. 1 Cheyenne Mountain. It’s not to disparage Battle Mountain. It’s just now the Huskies get an unexpected home game on Saturday in Edwards against those No. 17-ranked Jaguars.
“This is the best,” Huskies senior defender Miles Joersz said. “I’m so glad to be able to have another week with my boys.”
Battle Mountain looked like the better team, knocking the ball around nicely against the Raptors. David Barajas to Creek Kamby in the 14th minute put the Huskies up 1-0. Seemingly with the wind — and it was windy — in their sails, the Huskies would cruise.
Naturally, the Raptors’ Miguel Toledo capitalized on a defensive miscommunication and scored the equalizer a minute later. That seemed to be a gut punch to all the faithful who traveled down to Longmont.
Not to worry, though. The Huskies had it.
“Just being mentally strong,” Joersz said. “Cope and I discussed this — if they go up or tie us, we have the ability to come back on anybody.”
And though it didn’t come until early in the second half, the Huskies did, and via an unlikely person.
Erik Solis has been injured for most of the year, and only returned for the second Glenwood Springs game late last month.
“It was horrible just watching them play. Being on the bench felt horrible,” Solis said. “When I stepped on the pitch again in Glenwood, it was great.”
And it’s safe to say everyone in black and gold is happy about Solis’ return.
Kamby started it, sending Juan Macias out wide, and he sent it to Solis.
“I don’t know what to say. It was a fantastic play,” Solis said. “I just got the ball from Juan and I knew where to put it.”
Alan stands tall
The Huskies (15-2) could have had more, but it was a just result in the end, thanks to Villegas. He stopped two breakaways, and Battle Mountain was moving on to the Elite Eight.
“I just always followed my advice from (assistant coach) Jim (Glendining), which was to keep it one thought at a time, simple thoughts,” Villegas said. “I just went for the ball and stayed big.”
And as Villegas was making those saves, the word was filtering down in the stands and on the sideline that D’Evelyn beat Cheyenne Mountain, 3-2, which made Tuesday’s win doubly joyous.
“That’s awesome,” Cope said. “We said to the boys before the tournament, the No. 1 rarely wins the tournament. Somebody has to beat them. It just doesn’t have to be us. Now we get to improve on last year’s performance.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, at email@example.com and @cfreud.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.