Huskies soccer turns the tables on the Devils
EDWARDS — So whenever Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley soccer play each other next fall, shouldn’t they just mark down the score as 1-0?
In Round 1 this year down in Gypsum, the Devils scored off a restart for a 1-0 win. The Huskies got their revenge on Thursday in Edwards — off a restart — with a 1 -0 win in Edwards in Round 2.
“It’s a testament to the quality of soccer being played in the area. We picked up our 11th win. (Eagle Valley) already had 11 wins, and you add in the Vail Mountain School (13-1) and there’s some pretty good soccer being played around here,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “I was proud of Bratzo’s team and our team. Over two games, we each win 1-nil at home. You can’t boast too much, but we’re certainly happy to come out with the win today.”
An Erik Solis corner kick in the fourth minute went off Miles Joersz’s head to Uriel Lopez for a Battle Mountain score and the only marker of the game.
“We created our opportunities,” Devils coach Bratzo Horruitiner said. “It was a really equal game. It could have gone either way. Props to them. They put it away on a (corner) kick. Good game. We’re OK.”
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Both teams should be OK as far as the playoffs, yet the Huskies earned the inside track to the 4A Slope title going into the final days of the regular season.
Thursday was the third time in as many games that the Huskies have scored in the first five minutes — Evergreen, Summit County and the Devils.
“It’s been great,” Cope said. “It’s something that’s lucky or fortunate, but something we’ve focused on is getting a quick start and trying to jump on teams early.”
While Battle Mountain certainly controlled the flow of play for the first 35 minutes, it was an early sequence that proved critical. Solis had the corner kick. It rattled around in the box before Joersz got a header on it to Lopez.
“There was a header in the air and I saw it and finished it,” Lopez said. “That was the best feeling ever.”
In a poetic irony, Joersz got the assist. In the first meeting between the two teams, the Devils’ Aldo Palacios scored in the 66th minute, a goal on which Joersz got tagged with the blame.
“It’s even sweeter the second time, the sweetest,” Joersz said.
And with the exception of a few minutes in a loss to No. 1-ranked The Classical Academy, the Battle Mountain defense has tightened and become formidable.
Another trend is that Eagle Valley never goes away. This has been a trademark of the Devils for the past two seasons.
Eagle Valley started applying the pressure in the final five minutes of the half and nearly came away with the equalizer twice in the second half. Paco Serna sent a ball into the box that went just wide right. Later, Palacios seemed to have a prime opportunity with a header, only to be denied by a great save from Huskies goalie Jack Skidmore.
In another fun twist, Thursday was the one-year anniversary of Skidmore’s back surgery that sidelined him last season.
On the injury front, the Huskies’ Creek Kamby went down during the final two minutes with what appeared to be a right-leg injury. Cope said that the striker was likely going to get some rest in the final two games of the regular season.
Both teams seem to be streaking toward the playoffs. That’s Battle Mountain’s eighth win in a row. The Devils had won 10 of 11 before Thursday’s game. The Huskies (11-2 overall and 9-1 in the Slope) have Glenwood Springs on Saturday in Edwards before closing out the season against Steamboat Springs, also a home game. Win both, and Battle Mountain takes the league and the accompanying automatic playoff spot.
Eagle Valley (11-3, 8-3) hosts Summit on Thursday to close the regular season. While the Western Slope region, the league plus the 4A schools in the 5A/4A Southern League, are guaranteed only three state spots, it’s hard to see an 11- or 12-win team left out of the field.
While nothing is guaranteed, Battle Mountain qualified as one of seven wild-card teams last year with a 9-5-1 record.
“The cool thing is that we always grow,” Horruitiner said. “We’re going to work hard to the end in the playoffs. Who knows? Maybe we’ll see them again.”
In which case, the score will be 1-0.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.