It’s showtime: Huskies vs. TCA for all of the marbles
If you go ...
What: Class 4A soccer state finals, Battle Mountain vs. The Classical Academy.
Where: Dick’s Sporting Goods Park, 6000 Victory Way, Commerce City, CO 80022.
When: Today, 1 p.m.
And now we go to 1 Samuel 17:49, “Reaching into his bag and taking out a stone, he slung it and struck the Philistine on the forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell facedown on the ground.”
Yes, it is David and Goliath time as Battle Mountain soccer heads to Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City to face The Classical Academy in today’s 4A state title game at 1 p.m.
Both teams enter with 17-2 records, but, as everyone involved knows, the Titans smacked the Huskies, 6-0, on Sept. 16 in Edwards. A lot has happened since that Huskies loss — the nadir of the season that has been followed by 13 consecutive wins.
The question to be answered today is, “Have the Huskies closed the gap?”
Then and now
• The TCA game was a turning point in many ways. There’s the obvious — Battle Mountain went to Steamboat Springs for its next game and won, 3-0, and kept on winning. There was also a bit of a calling out, a rarity for a David Cope-coached team. The Huskies’ defense got slack and the coach had words for center back Miles Joersz and goalie Alan Villegas.
Cope is not close to a screamer — that’s a funny image — so when he does say something, it’s noticed. And Battle Mountain’s defense has been pretty tight since. Yes, there was the Summit game, a 7-4 win, but chalk that up to a little overly free substitution on the coach’s part. (That’s quintessential Cope, as well.) The Huskies have allowed nine goals in the last 13 matches, including that Summit game.
• The Huskies have a different vibe than in September. As has been the case with a lot of Battle Mountain soccer teams in the past, this team’s collective personality has developed with the passage of the season.
The Huskies were in a bit of fog with the loss to Eagle Valley in Gypsum during the second game of the season, and that continued through the TCA game. Yes, there have been tactical adjustments, but there have been attitude adjustments.
While this is a completely subjective category, this is year No. 20 for me with this team. This group has good feel. I know when people aren’t on the same page and when they are. This has a 2011 feel. Yes, 2012 is the preferred analogy, as that is the sacred year.
But 2012, like every other year, is part of a continuum. The 2011 season didn’t start well — 4-1-2 may sound OK, but the team had lost at Steamboat Springs and had a ghastly home tie against Glenwood Springs. That team turned it around by winning in Glenwood in extra time, and then coming back the next night and to topple Cheyenne Mountain, 4-2.
In retrospect, those two games were the launching point for 2012. The Huskies could play with the big boys and overcome their Demons/demons. This year’s team has done the same by running the league table after another brutal loss in Gyspum, winning a postseason game on the road and coming back from a 2-0 deficit in the quarterfinals.
Compare the Huskies at Eagle Valley on Aug. 30 to the guys in the Battle Mountain uniforms on Wednesday against Pueblo West. They’re different teams.
• Trends: They’re important. Yes, Juan Macias was a solid soccer player to start the season. His game’s been in a different happy place since the third week of October. Creek Kamby struggled early, yet when the calendar turned over to October, he’s gone off big-time.
One of the reasons I watch the game on the sidelines is that I’m blind as a bat, so I have to ask the coaching staff who got assists, or even goals, if it’s on the far side of the field. I also can hear things — like the defense talking. (OK, you can hear Joersz up in the press box, but that’s good.)
Then, we’ve also seen the improbables, by which I mean, not the usual suspects having moments. Erik Solis’ only goal of the season was the winner against Silver Creek in Round 2, and his only helper came in the semifinals. Tony Velasco scores on an overlapping run to ice the semifinals. Good teams need help from all over the roster.
Of course, I’d install TCA as the favorite. Titus Grant (No. 10) leads the way with 29 goals and 17 assists. Jaden Borja (No. 9) has a line of 26-11; Jake Slater (No. 4) is 13-12; Jonny Stephens (No. 17) has 13-8 and Jeremy Baldes (No. 13) seems to be the playmaker of the bunch with a sheet of 11-25.
If you got to the semifinals early down in Parker before the Huskies’ game and caught the Titans against Durango, you saw how when they get going, they start to roll.
Can the Huskies possess against the Titans to keep the latter’s offense from steamrolling? Will Battle Mountain find itself on the other end of its usual game, meaning that the Huskies will be on defense most of the time and looking for that one golden counter?
My bet is the latter as far as how the game goes.
Does TCA come in overconfident? Does Battle Mountain play the game of its collective life?
Both are possible.
One thing’s for sure — the Huskies are back on the big stage, and we’ll see you all down there in Commerce City.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.