Huskies play spoiler, finish with upset win
To: Rifle soccer coach Tom Taucher
From: Kate Steffens, Battle Mountain soccer coach
Re: Tuesday’s Battle Mountain-Palisade soccer game
Please send flowers, chocolates and other gifts of thanks to Battle Mountain High School care of P.O. Box 249, Minturn.
The Huskies have some big fans who wear blue and yellow in Garfield County after Battle Mountain pulled a shocker with a 3-2 overtime win over Palisade in the regular-season finale Tuesday.
The Bulldogs had needed a win in Tuesday’s game to secure the 4A Western Slope’s third and final state berth. But Kelly Casber’s 40-yarder in the waning moments of double, sudden-death overtime finished off the Bulldogs for the season, while a grateful bunch of Rifle Bears will head to state.
While Rifle heads to the dance, the Huskies got to finish a tough season on a fine note. A lot of the pain of going 3-9 overall and 3-7 in conference was washed away when Casber ripped the back of the net.
“What a terrific ending. Is that storybook or what,” Steffens said. “This is amazing. We needed this so much to end the season, to send the seniors off with a big smile. They have worked so hard this season. Unfortunately, the record hasn’t shown it. But truly each and every game has shown it. The scores have been so close and we finally were able to put some balls in the back of the net in this game.”
The Huskies’ postgame celebration reflected that mood. After dogpiling in the center of the field, the Huskies later celebrated on their sidelines with countless hugs and photos.
“It was really fun. After losing so many games being down, it was really fun to have a win,” said Huskies striker Heidi Lauterbach, who scored two goals in regulation. “The team commented on how it felt like we won state. It was great.”
It looked for a while in overtime that the Huskies were going to be fortunate to hang on for a tie. Most of the overtime play in the first five-minute session was in the Battle Mountain end. But with captain Lauren Meehan having wisely deferred going with the wind in the second OT, the Huskies were able to generate some offense.
Lauterbach nearly found Crystal Castruita on the left post with a well-intended cross. Shortly after that, Casber found herself with the ball a good 40 yards from the Palisade net. With the wind at her back, she booted it and the ball just floated under the crossbar for the win.
“I actually thought that I didn’t have the right angle and that it wouldn’t go in,” Casber said. “But I have kind of a history with shots like that and no goals from closer distances. It was kind of lucky.”
Not so, said Steffens.
“I’ve seen her do that. I’ve been coaching her for seven years and I’ve seen her do that at least six times,” Steffens said. “I knew it was going in as soon as she released the ball. It was terrific.”
“I knew it was going in. It was a hell-yeah moment,” Lauterbach said.
Lauterbach had a few moments of her own. After Melissa Thate scored for Palisade on an assist from Jessica Sargent, Lauterbach struck on a shot that clipped the right, top corner to tie the game.
Lauterbach started the second half with a nifty breakawys that gave the Huskies a 2-1 lead. Kendra Nash tied it midway through the second half, sending the game to overtime.
Just for kicks: Caitlin Rapson had a strong game in net for the Huskies. That effort included two big saves in overtime without the use of her contact lenses. The team’s seniors – Bryn Abbott, Cak Baskins, Maria Loper, Crystal Castruita – were honored at halftime. … Deja vu: For fans who’ve been going to Huskies soccer games, Tuesday’s finish looked awfully familiar to the Battle Mountain-VMS boys game in October of 1999. Then, VMS needed a win, not a tie, to advance to state. Instead, the Huskies’ Alberto Saenz scored the game-winner, also from near midfield, sending Battle Mountain to state.