In improbable scenario, Devils topple Huskies
EDWARDS — It’s not merely the fact that Eagle Valley soccer beat Battle Mountain. It’s how.
The Devils doubled up the Huskies, 2-1, on Friday night in Edwards, and it is exceedingly noteworthy, given Battle Mountain’s dominance in this series. Eagle Valley hasn’t beaten Battle Mountain in girls soccer since moving up to the 4A ranks back in the spring of 2005, for the purposes of this sport.
But stay with the how. Not only is Eagle Valley playing a new system, which produced two good goals, but the Devils hung on after seeing their goalie red-carded with 16 minutes to play. They played the final nail-biting 960 seconds, which doubtless seemed like forever, with defender Rose Sandell between the pipes and with just 10 players on the pitch.
“There’s almost no words for it,” Devils coach Maggie Sherman said. “The work they put in everyday, it showed up tonight and it showed the heart they had. You can’t practice that.”
Yeah, for some reason, teams don’t start practice with the goalie red-card scenario. It’s a world gone mad.
“It’s a dream come true,” Devils junior Jessica Adams said. “This is what we’ve been working for. We pushed though the adversity and got the win at the end. This is just the beginning.”
Rose Sandell, goalie?
With the Devils leading 2-0, at intermission, one figured that Battle Mountain would make a charge. It came promptly.
The Huskies converted on a corner kick with Skye Whitney setting up Avery Weaver during the 41st minute. This was the test. Could Eagle Valley, a team not used to having a lead in a big game, keep its composure?
The answer was yes, and more than anyone could expect. Emboldened by Weaver’s tally, the Huskies pressed forward, yet the Devils held.
Weaver nearly had the equalizer in the 64th minute on a breakaway. Devils keeper Brennecke Gale came out to snuff the opportunity. However, she left the 18. A goalie has the freedom to do so, but not to use his or her hands outside the box. Gale stopped Weaver’s shot, but drew the red.
“She knows that in the back of her mind she’s the next in line,” Sherman said of Sandell. “It was no questions asked.”
Sandell is no stranger to stopping goals. She’s been the heart of the defense for her four years at Eagle Valley. In fact, early in the game, she cleared the ball of the goal line, saving the Devils’ bacon.
Nonetheless, this is not how anyone draws up a game plan.
“Brennecke is such an amazing goalie and she’s put in so much work and effort into this,” Sandell said. “She carried us until she went out, and she was still bossing the team around afterward. When I went in, my team stopped more than I had come to me, so I really have to hand it to them. They carried this out.”
Sandell can add two saves to her resume and she gets credit for the win along with Gale.
“I think the way the girls responded was commendable,” Sherman said. “They knew what was at stake.”
Devils go wide
And while this game will go down at future Eagle Valley reunions as “Remember the game when Rose had to play goalie,” it’s worth noting how the Devils (3-2 overall and 2-1 in the 4A Slope) played the first half.
Under Sherman, not surprisingly, the Devils’ new system emphasizes possession and width. Eagle Valley played Battle Mountain’s/Vail Mountain’s game, and dominated the first half. Sherman played at VMS when she attended high school, so it’s no surprise that her team would play that system.
Eagle Valley’s Zoe Booth was the beneficiary of corner kick from Ginny Osteen for a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute. The Devils’ second was truly a product of the new system as Hana Berge worked the ball to the left corner and cut it back to an onrushing Sofia Aguilar, who slammed it home.
“Carrying it wide and crossing it is something we’ve been working on forever,” Aguilar said. “As soon as Hana made that beautiful pass and no one was on me, I just needed to keep composure. It was a one-time chance and I had to finish it.”
Meanwhile, Battle Mountain is in an unaccustomed place — 0-5 overall and 0-3 in the Slope.
“If you look at the effort and the togetherness and the passion we showed, there’s a lot of positives to take away from it,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “I think it tests your character. Adversity reveals character. … We’re very close to being a good team. We’ve lost four games by one goal each.”
Battle Mountain heads to Glenwood Springs on Thursday. Meanwhile, Eagle Valley, after five road games to start the season, has its home opener today in Gypsum at 11 a.m., against VMS.
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