Huskies win overtime thriller over Sailors
EDWARDS — Did you expect anything less?
In the first state-playoff meeting between the longtime rivals — be it fall or spring — Battle Mountain girls soccer outlasted Steamboat Springs, 3-2, on a Logan Nash golden goal with 7:08 left in the second overtime of their second-round game on Saturday in Edwards.
The Huskies took a 2-0 lead in the first half, and had the Sailors reeling. Steamboat rallied in the second half with two of its own and Battle Mountain was on its heels. Were it not for Nash, these two teams might still be playing.
“It was beyond a storybook,” Huskies senior midfielder Acacia Ortiz said. “I don’t even have words for it. You always imagine what a moment would be like, and this was even better what we all thought.”
With the win, Battle Mountain (15-2) is in the quarterfinals for the first time in school history during the spring. The Huskies will host Windsor on Thursday — time yet to be determined — in the Elite Eight.
“Amazing,” Huskies defender A.J. Davies said. “The opportunity to go on and play one more week with these girls guaranteed, and, hopefully, two is incredible. These seniors are my best friends. The chance to go on with them is incredible.”
And as trite as it is, the cliché remains true — no one deserved to lose this game.
“It was all them. At halftime, it was regrouping,” Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. “They came off and they were devastated. The did an awesome job of resetting themselves and coming out and showing what this team’s DNA is all about. It’s grit and fight and playing to the final whistle.”
The good news for Steamboat fans is that Nash is a senior. With her second golden goal against the Sailors this season, no one up north is going to be sorry to see her go.
The good news also for Steamboat fans is that Sailors goalie Ocoee Wilson is junior. She was simply outstanding on Saturday. Were it not for her, this game wouldn’t have come close to overtime.
Bohlmann described his goalie as, “magic.” The Copes of Battle Mountain didn’t disagree.
“Ocoee had a great game,” Huskies midfielder Emily said.
“We take our hats off to her,” said Dad, aka David the Huskies head coach.
Battle Mountain looked like it was in control early with Nash scoring from outside-back Mallory Skidmore in the seventh minute. That was a particularly good moment for the Huskies as in their first meeting of the season the Sailors put pressure on Battle Mountain’s outside backs, a tactic which stalled the Huskies’ powerful attack.
With six minutes left in the half, the Huskies were able to bump the lead to 2-0 as Ortiz fed Morgan Croke.
“We sort of knew at 2-0 that it wasn’t job done,” coach David Cope said. “That’s a good lesson we learned through our first playoff game. And that’s what you do. You grow through these playoffs. I thought we did a good job staying connected to the game. We created a ton of chances. You can’t fault the way we played. They just didn’t go in. They didn’t go in because of a spectacular goalkeeping display by Ocoee Wilson.”
The mini-crisis within Battle Mountain’s camp this week was poor play in the second half during the team’s first-round 4-1 win against Skyview. On Saturday, the Huskies didn’t play poorly. The Sailors simply found a resolve within and came back.
In the 60th minute, Mackenzie Gansmann scored the first of her two on a helper from Brooke Buchanan.
“There’s a special feeling that comes with the Steamboat game, even when I was watching as a tiny little kid,” said Emily Cope, who has grown up with this rivalry with her father as Battle Mountain’s coach. “Today they played a great game.”
Speaking of people who are familiar with all things Sailors-Huskies, Natalie Bohlmann assisted Gansmann on her second goal four minutes later and the Sailors had all the momentum.
Not only was Steamboat rolling, but the Huskies were dealing with injuries in back. Skye Whitney had to leave the game, but returned. Rachel Ledon went down, and the Huskies were trying to adjust on the fly.
“It’s definitely nerve-wracking seeing your two main wings go out, but we’re confident in the subs we have.” Davies said. “We have (23) players who can play on the field, not just our starting 11. We’re confident in them.”
By the way, a record
With 30 minutes of overtime in the playoffs looming, both teams tried to regroup during the five minutes after regulation. Despite a chilly afternoon, the Sailors and Huskies were gulping water to avoid muscle cramps.
Nash was clearly hurting with both cramps and shin splints, and she soldiered on. She crushed a shot, which hit the crossbar in the first overtime session. Undeterred the Huskies seemed to get their footing in the second overtime, playing the ball to their feet and linking passes.
The decisive sequence came when Ortiz laid it back to Molly Phannenstiel, who sent it forward Nash on the left side. Nash sent it into the right corner, sending the Huskies to quarterfinals.
“I knew if it didn’t go in, I’d have a teammate to follow it,” Nash said. “The moment it went in I just started crying. I was so happy.”
And, in a nice touch, that was Nash’s 31st goal of the season to break the previous school record set by Kelsey Sanders’ 30 in 2006.
While the Huskies went nuts, the Sailors were understandably devastated, having left everything out on the field.
“The only thing you can say is how much you appreciate and how grateful you are for everything they’ve done this season,” Bohlmann said. “They definitely made the Western Slope proud, and certainly all the best to Battle Mountain as they continue their run.”
News and notes
Battle Mountain’s next opponent, Windsor, also needed extra time to win in Round 2, edging Wheat Ridge, 2-1. … Things that get lost in an epic: Phannenstiel, who had the assist on the game-winner, also did a superb job of defending Steamboat’s Jordan Floyd. … Huskies goalie Nicole Lasater didn’t need to be as prolific as her Steamboat counterpart, but had key saves in the winning effort.