Huskies soccer keeps it in the family
EAGLE-VAIL – Battle Mountain boys’ soccer likes to keep things in the family.Not only did the Huskies win their third straight 4A Slope crown, but the league’s Player of the Year and Coach of the Year awards are also staying in Eagle-Vail.Erik Garcia won 4A Slope Player of the Year, becoming the third Huskies’ player in as many years to capture the award (Tyler Cole, 2005, and Andy Banner, 2004). And David Cope made it three in row in the coaching department, sharing the award with friendly rival Rob Bohlmann of Steamboat Springs.Garcia was also named to the 4A all-state team, with Alberto Hernandez earning second team all-state and Jose Pavon honorable mention in that category. Goalie D.J. Van Curan and backliner Tony Seibert join Garcia on the all-league team with Chris Woodruff, Hernandez and Pavon also earning honorable mention.Not a bad haul for the Huskies who went 13-3-1, won the school’s first road state playoff game and made it to the quarterfinals for the second year in a row.Cope againCope didn’t realize that the 2006 Coach of the Year Award with Bohlmann was his third in a row. By the way, Cope, you also won it on the girls’ side in 2004, if you don’t remember. “That award is always acknowledging the program more than the coach, the respect that we get and the seedlings reflect that,” Cope said. “The awards the players get reflect that. It’s sort of a three-pronged thing.”It also helps to have assistants like Kyle Mercer and Jeff Hayslip. Cope went out of his way to thank them as well as his family – his wife, Kathleen, and children, Emily, 8, and Casey, 5.It’s appropriate that Cope shares the award this year with Bohlmann. Not only are the two fixtures on the sideline in both the fall and spring, but they’re good friends off the pitch.”We’ve had some fantastic matches between our teams over the years,” Cope said. “Every summer, I go up and work at his camp. It’s not a coincidence when his team crushes everyone else, we play them close. In years when we’re having a good year, they play us close because we know each other’s views on the game so well.”If you’re wondering, the two hook up again March 22 in Edwards.Garcia makes it threeGarcia was a co-captain who symbolized the team’s rise with his story and his actions. Another player who finally got his shot to play, he seized it with gusto. He had seven goals and nine assists.”It feels great. I can’t explain how it feels,” Garcia said. “I was real surprised. I think anyone else on our team could have got it.”In addition to the numbers, he helped lead the team with class. Not only did he have the right words when a teammate needed a push or some comfort, but he produced one of the signature moments of the season. Late in the year, Garcia received a penalty kick and had a hat trick in his grasp. Instead of taking the shot, Garcia gave the opportunity to Nick Hand for the score.”Erik was ready to take over this team. You could see it in his eyes,” Cope said. “Even last year when he came into games, he was ready. You could see it on the field. He is one of the players whose fitness allows him never to stop. … Erik is just a self-motivated, quiet, lead-by-example type of kid.”D.J. and TonyVan Curan had some awfully big shoes to fill, replacing Josh Ruark between the pipes. The senior did so with aplomb. Van Curan had a 1.52 goals-against average and three shutouts.”For a goalkeeper, there’s only one spot for you to get,” Van Curan said. “To be honored like this is an accomplishment.”It’s also hard to get all-league when you’re the goalie on the best team in the Slope.”A lot of times a goalkeeper on a really successful team gets discounted,” Cope said. “But D.J.’s impact on our team has been huge – his distribution. He set up goals. He has the ability to come out all the way to the top of the box on through balls.”Van Curan, along with fellow all-leaguer Seibert, allowed Battle Mountain to take offensive risks late in games. Van Curan did so in the clincher at Glenwood Springs, while Seibert was huge in the team’s second win against Eagle Valley.Seibert seems to be following in the tradition of rock-solid Huskies defenders like Ryan Phillips, Peder Jessen, Everado Gonzales, Harrison Brown and Connor Drumm. In one way, he can exceed those big names.”Tony Seibert will come back to his senior year with a chance to win four league titles, which no one has ever done in our program,” Cope said. “He’ll have played varsity in all four years. He’s such a multi-faceted guy where he’s able to posses the ball, win tackles. One of the biggest impacts he had was on people around him.”And if that weren’t motivation enough, Seibert missed the playoffs this year after he partially tore the MCL in his left knee at Glenwood.”I’m anticipating next year’s playoffs so that I can get in there and play with the best kids in the state,” Seibert said. “It felt bad sitting on the bench all day.”More honorsHernandez was another part of Battle Mountain’s revamped back. Not only was he an excellent defender, but he had the knack for scoring the clutch goal. Among his finest were the league clincher at Glenwood and the team’s third at Conifer.In all, Hernandez had three game-winning goals.”That’s not bad for a defender,” Cope joked. “In games when we were keeping it close, Berto stepped up out of the back and said, ‘OK boys, I’ve kept it close for you this game, but I guess I’m gong to step up and win it for us.’ It’s nice to have a defender with that kid of confidence.”Pavon didn’t lack confidence, but he needed some seasoning. As the season progressed, the junior grew in his maturity and he led the team with 14 goals. Six times he scored the first goal of the game for the Huskies.”This season was Pavon’s coming of age in a lot of ways,” Cope said. “We saw a glimpse of the talent he had last year in the playoffs. But this year we started to see it more consistently. I think Jose is a player who can dominate.”Woodruff was under the radar all season. But in doing that, the midfielder drew some very favorable comparisons with past players in the program.”He’s a lot like Kyle (Moore) in the sense that he never stops working on the field,” Cope said. “He also falls in the mold of Tyler Cole and Dane Jacobs where he’s just working so hard to get the ball back for us and never loses possession. When the ball comes through Woody, It’s continued possession.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.