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Huskies soccer gets ninth seed

SPO BMHS Soc Girls v Summit 01 TS 03-13-08
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EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” Nine’s a nice number.

There are many great symphonies with that number (Beethoven’ “Choral,” Dvorak’s “New World” and Schubert’s “Great,” to name a few). Cats supposedly have nine lives, and that’s the size of the Supreme Court. During “The 12 Days of Christmas,” there are nine ladies dancing.

Most apropos, American women’s soccer legend Mia Hamm wore No. 9.

And that gets us to the fact that Battle Mountain girls’ soccer with a record of 15-0 drew the No. 9 seed in 4A state-playoff bracket Sunday and will host Greeley West in the first round Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at Freedom Park in Edwards.

Nine is nice because the Huskies are considered one of the top-10 teams in the state. But nine is not eight, which is important because being No. 8 would assure Battle Mountain a home game in Round 2. If the bracket goes according to form, the Huskies would be at No. 8 Mountain Range Friday for the second round.

So it was with mixed reaction that the Huskies got the news Sunday.

“I think it will be a good challenge,” Huskies fullback Jamie Lee Roberts said. “I’m kind of bummed we’re not in the top eight. But it’s still a challenge to show that we should have been ranked higher.”

“I think that the kids are now pretty experienced with the playoff thing,” Battle Mountain coach David Cope said. “The biggest thing they need to understand is that it’s definite judgment on our past playoff experience, but not a predictor of our future performance.”

Do they have a beef?

With a 15-0 record, the first perfect regular season in soccer in the school’s history, Battle Mountain had hoped to crack the top eight to get that second home game. But as Cope noted, Battle Mountain’s performance in the playoffs the last two springs likely did not help the Huskies’ cause.

In 2006, the Huskies were ranked No. 15 and hosted No. 18 Liberty, losing 2-0. That was a mild upset. The bigger issue was last year’s playoff run (or lack thereof). The Huskies entered as No. 6 and dispatched Denver South in their first game, but got decked by No. 11 Golden, 5-0, in the second round at the Vail Mountain School.

Since Battle Mountain plays 14 of 15 games in the Western Slope and the 15th game is always Summit, past playoff games are really the only way the CHSAA voters can judge how the Huskies stack up against the state’s best.

And while many in Battle Mountain’s camp felt that a perfect record should put the Huskies in the ever-important top eight, looking at the bracket, it’s a tough argument to make.

“The first thing I did was look at No. 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1,” Cope said. “Nobody outrageous is ahead of us.”

No. 1 Silver Creek at 14-0-1 and the champion of the Northern League, likely the best conference in 4A, is a no-brainer. Golden, the Jeffco champ, at No. 2 is a better team than Battle Mountain until the Huskies prove otherwise, and make no mistake, they would love the chance. (By the way, that could only happen in the final with Golden on the other side of the bracket.)

No. 3 Cheyenne Mountain (13-2) ruled the roost in the Colorado Springs Metro League and Broomfield (10-2-3) is an established Northern League power with an impeccable postseason pedigree. No. 5 Fossil Ridge (11-2-2) is the third team out of the North, but the Sabercats made the semifinals last year. For those looking for an omen, Fossil Ridge started last year’s tourney as the No. 9 and knocked off No. 1 Niwot.

It’s hard to quibble with No. 6 Pueblo Centennial (12-0-2), winner of the South Central. The Bulldogs have allowed all of one goal this season. (Their other tie was a scoreless one.)

No. 7 Ralston Valley (10-3-1) took second in the Jeffco, went to the finals in 2006 and beat No. 3 Cheyenne earlier this year. No. 8 Mountain Ridge is a co-champion of the Skyline Conference.

As much as Battle Mountain would like to wish it otherwise, all eight teams ahead of the Huskies are champions of stronger leagues than the Slope or teams that have good playoff histories.

History lesson

The best way to fix any perceived injustice is for the Huskies to make a run this year.

If for some reason No. 25 Glenwood Springs upsets No. 8 Mountain Range and the Huskies got past Greeley West, Battle Mountain would be home for Round 2.

Otherwise, it’s an 8-9 match-up with Battle Mountain on the road, and that brings back some memories for Cope.

His boys’ teams faced similar problems earlier this decade with seeding and played their way out of them, most notably in 2006 when the No. 9 Huskies knocked off No. 8 Conifer on the road in the second round.

Battle Mountain will also be looking for a little help from its fellow Slope teams. The better the conference teams do in the playoffs, the better Slope teams will likely be seeded in the future.

In addition to Glenwood at Mountain Range, No. 21 Steamboat Springs (11-3-1) is at No. 12 Cherokee Trail (12-2-1) and No. 19 Montrose (10-4-1) is at No. 14 Pueblo South (11-2-1). No. 31 Delta (6-7-2) will likely be put through a wood-chipper by Golden.

In the meantime, the Huskies train this afternoon, and get ready for the game they’ve been waiting for since they got knocked out by Golden last season.

“I’ve been thinking about the playoffs since last year,” Roberts said. “We’re pretty prepared to show them how we can play.”

By the way if you’re wondering, sophomore Maddie LyBarger wears No. 9 for Battle Mountain. There’s no word yet on whether she’s going to trade for a lower uniform number next season.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.


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