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Huskies ready for title run

Chris FreudVail CO, Colorado
Daily file photo/Shane Macomber Coming off 28 goals in 2006, Julia Burnett (14) returns with Kelsey Sanders (30 goals) giving the Huskies a load of offensive prowess at striker for 2007.
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EAGLE-VAIL – The Battle Mountain girls’ soccer team is throwing its hat into the ring.”We’d like to announce that we’re forming an exploratory committee to seek the state championship,” Huskies coach David Cope said.There’s been no reaction yet from anyone in the Clinton, Obama, McCain or Giuliani camps. Cope also declined to disclose when an official announcement will come out or whether that statement will coincide with an appearance on Letterman.However it works, the 2007 campaign should be an exciting one and definitely one like any other.For starters, Battle Mountain returns a combined 58 goals in Kelsey Sanders and Julia Burnett.”I’ve never had a team returning with 58 goals, much less two players.” said Cope who starts his 17th season as a head coach at Battle Mountain between the boys’ and girls program.The Lady Huskies are coming off a 13-2-1 season, but it doesn’t end there.There’s a distinct possibility that Sanders (30 goals in 2006) or Julia Burnett (28) among others could be starting as a goalie when the Huskies open at Freedom Park in Edwards Thursday at 4 p.m. against Delta

Huh?Yes, the Huskies will initially be goaltending by committee, and Cope is tapping his best athletes for the job, which means that any of the likes of Sanders, Burnett, Emily LyBarger, Kaeli Hosler, Kori Landauer or Sydney Nichols will be seeing time in the net.”Being a forward, you kind of get the idea,” said Sanders, who certainly has some experience on what moves it takes to score a goal. “But we’re definitely a more offensive team. When we approach the problem of not having a goalie, we’ve got to rely on some of our field players to help out.”Landauer has the most experience in net, having posted a 1.32 goals-against average last spring. But with Landauer expected to play in the midfield for a good portion of the season, it’s literally anybody’s job.”We don’t mean to demean the importance of the position, and that’s why we’re putting some of our best athletes back there,” Cope said. “Without an-out and-out player with experience and passion for the position, people have done it. Basically, you’re defending. You’re just allowed to use your hands.”Cope added that he’s planning to start the season this way and that a more conventional goalie rotation may emerge.Firepower

One of the reasons the Huskies can do this is that they are absolutely potent in the field. In a standard lineup, merely having Burnett and Sanders up front would dictate that the flow of play is going to be on the other end of the field.Cope also likes the system because, if Sanders or Burnett is in net, it’s going to give opportunities for other players like striker Kayla Telles.And that’s just up front. LyBarger anchors the midfield with Landauer inside and Kelly Van Hee and Hannah Guida on the outside.In back, the Huskies are solid with Nichols, Jamie Lee Roberts, Kelly Bowles and McKenzie Stevens. Toss in four freshmen – Marisa Amaturo, Lizzie Seibert, Stephanie Woodruff and Madelyne LyBarger – and competition is tight for time on the pitch.As for Burnett and Sanders, a combined 58 goals is going to attract attention. Doubtless, they’ll be marked all season. Are 30- and 28-goal seasons realistic again?”The important thing for them is not to judge them by getting those 58 goals again, but judging them by how the team did,” Cope said. “‘Did they lead us to the league title? Did that take us further in state?’ If they scored 30 and we went deeper into state, that would be a step forward.”The carrotBattle Mountain tied Steamboat for the Slope crown with a 12-1-1 mark, but the Sailors won the league crown by taking the season series 1-0-1. Pulling even with Steamboat was a definite positive from 2006.

Not taking the league crown, something the Huskies have never done despite the fact that the banner in the gym incorrectly says the team won the title in 1999, and a 2-0 first-round playoff loss on home turf to Liberty leaves motivation. “There’s a big carrot out there,” Cope said. “This group has never won the league. When you get into a situation of looking at how small the margin of winning or losing is, they realize that there’s not a lot of wiggle room.”While Steamboat, Glenwood, Eagle Valley and Delta should contend, on paper, the Huskies are the favorites in the Slope. With Nichols and Landauer on the roster, it’s not surprising that this set of Huskies is taking inspiration from Battle Mountain’s spikers who won the state title last fall.”With our girls it’s just a matter of setting goals for each and every contest so that we can hold our standards high and not slip,” Cope said.”It’s our senior year. All of us are ready to show them what we’ve got,” Sanders said. “They think we’ve lost a lot of seniors, but we’re coming back with a stronger squad. We work harder. We’ll prove them wrong.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.*****Glance box*****

Leading goal scorersKelsey Sanders and Julia Burnett combined for 58 goals in 2006. Here are the single-season goal scorers in Battle Mountain boys’ and girls’ history:Kelsey Sanders302006Julia Burnett282006Christina Aiello241999Andy Banner232004Scott Ligouri192000Dan Weiland191992


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