Huskies soccer makes the quarterfinals |

Huskies soccer makes the quarterfinals

Preston Utley/Vail DailyEdgar Hernandez, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring his third goal of the game Saturday against Cheyenne Mountain in Round 2 of the state soccer playoffs in Edwards. The Huskies won, 3-1.

EDWARDS – Oh, by the way, Battle Mountain soccer won, too.On a day of an embarrassment of riches for Battle Mountain, the Huskies boys soccer team joined the party by upending Cheyenne Mountain, 3-1, to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in school history.”It’s really exciting. The kids deserve it,” coach David Cope said. “This group of kids, there’s some quality in our group. A little fortune, maybe it’s a sign. Maybe that’s a sign from the soccer gods that they’re on our side this time. We were obviously a little fortunate with three posts.”Three posts or not, this was Battle Mountain’s day on all fronts.”We played a great team today, a well-coached team,” Cheyenne coach Scott Johnson said. “Dave Cope is a terrific soccer coach. He has a talented team. I wish him luck in the next round. Our guys played hard. We left it out on the field. We wish them luck as they go on.”Too many posts. We’re putting the ball on net, but this wasn’t our day today. It was our unlucky day,” Johnson said.Battle Mountain’s Edgar Hernandez didn’t hit the post. All he did was cement his reputation as one of Battle Mountain’s all-time clutch goal scorers with his second hat trick in as many playoff games this week.

“If he gets a hat trick in every round, we’ll be OK,” Cope joked.”It was great. I’m on fire, playing my best,” Hernandez said.Using their headsJust two minutes in, Hernandez and Gustavo Bronfield played give-and-go for a 1-0 lead. Hernandez kicked it to Bronfield. Bronfield headed it back to Hernandez, who headed it into the right side of the Cheyenne net.”It was crazy,” Hernandez said. “I gave it to Gustavo, and he hits it back, and I just hit it in. I didn’t think it was going to go in.””The guys involved in it we knew were the top two scorers on the team,” Johnson said. “We talked about marking them up. I don’t think we paid enough attention to them. They had a little room to work, and that’s all they needed.”It’s cliche, but it’s true. Getting that first goal was a boost of confidence for the Huskies.

“It settles everybody down,” Cope said. “I think these guys still are just realizing that they can play with these teams. I think the first 25 minutes against Liberty (in Round 2 of the 2004 playoffs) last year should have been a sign. I think these guys are starting to realize that they can play with these teams.”It certainly doesn’t hut when you give Hernandez a penalty kick in the 26th minute. He rifled his shot into the top-left corner.”I was nervous there, but I’ve had confidence in my shot,” Hernandez said. “I just put it in for 2-0.”‘You deserve to be ahead’Battle Mountain came out tentatively in the second half with the most dangerous lead in soccer – a two-goal lead. Cheyenne Mountain controlled the tempo for the first 15 minutes.But eventually, Cope’s words at halftime sunk in.”At half, we said, ‘You deserve to be ahead. It’s not like something lucky happened and now we’re ahead,'” Cope said. “‘You guys deserve to be in this position and you need to go out and attack because the third goal will be the one that seals this game.'”

And who else but Hernandez answered the bell. He got the sealer in the 58th minute with a wicked shot that caught the left panel.Defense and goaltending finish itCheyenne played furiously down the stretch. The Indians’ Blake Johnson scored late and his teammates kept charging. But leave it to the back of Connor Drumm, Tony Seibert and Taylor Telling and the lead was secure, especially after Round 1 when Evergreen scored twice immediately after Battle Mountain goals.”I thought we defended really, really well,” Cope said. “We kept our shape. We found our marks really well. After each goal, we kept our concentration which obviously was something we addressed this week.”Then there was goalie Josh Ruark. Back in action after having to sit out in Round 1 for a red card, the senior was on top of his game.

“I didn’t really do much to prepare,” Ruark said. “I was just looking at the game since the game I couldn’t play in. I had a while to think about it and I was just ready play. I was excited to be back on the field with these guys.”The woodwork is always a goalie’s best friend and Ruark got some help from it. A hat trick by one of your strikers is a close second in that category.”It makes my life a lot easier,” Ruark said. “It’s a lot of pressure off my shoulders. So thanks, Edgar.”Pine Creek nextPine Creek knocked off D’Evelyn, 1-0, Saturday night, dashing the Huskies’ hope of a home game in Thursday’s quarterfinals. The Huskies will meet the Eagles in Colorado Springs Thursday at a time to be determined.No. 4 Pine Creek finished second in the Colorado Springs Metro, just ahead of Cheyenne.”Pine Creek is a very similar team to us,” Scott Johnson said. “We had a real close game with them. They beat us in double overtime with less than a minute to play. You’d probably expect more of the same out of Pine Creek.

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“I think when you get to this stage of the tournament everyone is going to have quality,” Cope said. “Pine Creek did struggle in the first round against a lower seed. It shows you that when you get this far, we can play. Pine Creek is quality team, but so are we.”Just for kicksThe game was moved from Eagle-Vail to Freedom Park in Edwards because of the rain/snow combo at Battle Mountain. The weather got progressively worse as the game went on. … Kudos to Kasey Cope for predicting the correct score of 3-1. … The refs were dealing cards like it was Vegas Saturday. Battle Mountain’s Casey Kleisinger, Tyler Cole, Joel Gonzales and Isaac Anderson all got yellows. Those get washed away for Pine Creek. The Indians’ Winston Yellen and Blake Johnson also got booked.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or, Colorado

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