Huskies’ road ends at Golden |

Huskies’ road ends at Golden

Bret Hartman/Vail DailyBattle Mountain's Kelsey Sanders shoots Thursday against Golden. Sanders had two goals in the Huskies loss to Golden, 3-2.

GOLDEN – After their 3-2 loss in Round 2 of the 4A state playoffs at Golden Thursday, the members of the Battle Mountain girls soccer team just lingered around the field at the Northern Area Athletic Complex.Coach David Cope gave a long postgame chat, thanking each of his 11 seniors. Then, the girls just milled around, hugging and crying with themselves, friends and family.The 2005 girls soccer team – the best team in the history of the nine-year program at 14-3 – just did not want to let go.Unfortunately, Golden’s Hillary Chapple ended the Huskies’ season with a goal in the 64th minute just after Battle Mountain had staged a furious comeback to erase a 2-0 deficit.”Words cannot explain,” junior Morgan Wallace said. “Not only the way we play, but the way we play with each other is just unbelievable. We’ve grown together so much. A lot of players on varsity weren’t on varsity last year. Just to come together from the freshmen to the seniors is just amazing. I’m so proud of us, no matter how hard this loss was today. We’re 14-3. That’s awesome.”

“We wouldn’t be here if we weren’t a great team,” senior Allison O’Neill said. We played with such heart and that’s what separates us from all the other teams. We say that over and over again just because it means so much. You don’t see one person here who’s not crying just because it’s hard to separate from this because we’ve become so close.”Down 2-0Battle Mountain had an uncharacteristically slow start and it likely cost the Huskies in the end. Golden’s Dale Ekberg scored twice in the first 15 minutes and the Huskies were immediately in a hole.To put this in perspective, Battle Mountain had allowed two goals in a game just twice this season, not to mention in the first 15 minutes of a game.

“It’s just a shame,” Cope said. “We said at halftime, ‘This team’s pretty good. I don’t think we needed to spot them two goals.’ That was the difference we couldn’t make up because I felt like for the next 60 minutes, we were maybe the better team.”The Huskies finally found their legs and started to dictate the tempo, In the 29th minute, O’Neill served a great through ball to Kelsey Sanders who was 1-on-1 with Golden keeper Dana Garrett. Sanders blasted her shot from the right side to the left panel and Battle Mountain was back in the game.Both teams went back and forth in the second half. Huskies keeper Alexis Guinn, who attended Golden her freshman year, stood tall with several superb saves keeping her team in the game.”Lexi definitely played the game of her life, especially because she came back to her hometown,” O’Neill said. “She knew the players and she knew some of the fans. That had to have been a hard mental aspect of the game. So, she played the game of her life.”Emily LyBarger and Sanders were playing pretty well, too. LyBarger, who had a tremendous freshman campaign, sprung Sanders with a gorgeous pass and Sanders put in the equalizer.

Battle Mountain had the momentum, or so it thought.”We even talked about that at halftime,” Cope said. “If we can get the second goal, it’s going to put them under all kinds of pressure. Perhaps when that happens, you have a tendency to maybe press forward a little hard and try to get the next one and you leave yourself exposed in the back.”That’s exactly what happened. Chapple scored three minutes later. Though the Huskies didn’t stop pushing, that was the game.Seniors

All good things must come to an end and the reality of soccer in Colorado is that only three teams go home happy at the end of a season – the 3A, 4A and 5A state champs.Thursday marked the finale for seniors Killion Hunn, Guinn, Ashley MacDonald, Liz Gladitsch, Berkeley Chipman, O’Neill, Kelsey Abbott, Emily Baskins, Gina Obeso, Amanda Larson and Gabriella Hernandez.This group went from being also-rans in the Slope its first two years to the regional playoffs last year and the round of 16 in the state playoffs in 2005.”It’s a great group.,” Cope said. “We just talked about it. We talked not only about wins and losses – obviously, 14 wins is the most the girls have ever had – but more about the chemistry they were able to create and the togetherness they were able to have and the way they treated the younger girls. I was just a really positive culture. I thought they were great.””The seniors, I’ve grown to love every single one of them,” Wallace said. “They all have great hearts and they’re really great people.”

And that is one of many reasons it was hard to leave the pitch Thursday.Just for kicksSo the season is over, which means of course, we immediately look to next year. Though the seniors will be sorely missed, the pipeline is loaded. “This program is solid top to bottom,” Cope said. “We have a ton of kids. Both varsity players who are young like Emily LyBarger and Kelsey Sanders, a very solid junior group with Morgi (Wallace) and Christina (Harrison), Kate (Van Hee) and Steph (Walker) and that whole crew and then a JV team which allowed one goal all year so the future is bright. The seniors have sort of set an example now for the other girls to try to match or even surpass.” … Gionbottiglio went to Wallace. The Bag went to Guinn who gave it back to the team. … Congratulations to Cope. Between the boys and girls soccer teams this academic year, his teams went 28-6. … Props also to Battle Mountain’s fans. The faithful pretty much outnumbered the Golden crowd on its home pitch.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or, Colorado

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