Jack-pot: Huskies win stadium opener in Edwards
EDWARDS, Colorado – Battle Mountain soccer’s Jack Sunderland was not going to miss twice.
Not on the night that the Huskies opened their new stadium.
Not after 1-1 ties at Eagle Valley and Steamboat Springs last week.
Deadlocked at zero midway through the second half, Sunderland had a breakaway on Glenwood keeper Carson Wilde, only to be stopped by a superb tackle by Demons defender Michael McGraw.
With three minutes to go and the game still scoreless, Sunderland had his second breakaway.
“I didn’t think I was getting another one, but when I did, I wasn’t going to miss,” Sunderland said.
Wilde made a great save on Sunderland’s first shot, but the Huskies striker jumped on the rebound and poked it into the right corner in the 77th minute for a 1-0 win Tuesday night as Battle Mountain soccer opened the school’s new stadium in heart-stopping fashion.
“It’s a great moment in my life, my best sports moment ever,” Sunderland said. “Unbelievable. Everyone stuck together. We never gave up. It was just awesome.”
While the Huskies celebrated, the Demons were understandably devastated, having played a fine game.
“We build and build,” Glenwood coach John Mount said. “I told the guys at the beginning of the season that we were going to get better. Going up against a phenomenal team like Battle Mountain, it’s a great test for us as a team. This is our league. This is what it’s about. This is a great taste.”
“We played really hard,” McGraw said. “We just got unlucky, I guess. We couldn’t find the back of the net. We had some good opportunities.”
The good news for Glenwood and soccer fans in general is that these two teams meet at Stubler Memorial Field again on Tuesday.
Prior to Tuesday night’s game, every meeting among the 4A Slope’s four contenders, Battle Mountain, Eagle Valley, Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs had been a 1-1 tie. This one had all the markings of a scoreless draw.
While the Huskies had the majority of the scoring chances, they simply could not crack Wilde. Battle Mountain pounded him with shots, and he answered, leaving the Huskies visibly frustrated.
“Carson was stellar,” Mount said. “Carson is one of those guys who brings his whole heart and a full commitment to the team. He’s a leader of the program. He’s kind of a late bloomer. He was our back-up last season. This season, he’s come out full force for us.”
Glenwood did have two chances in the second half. Danny Weller tried the left post, only to have Huskies keeper Clint Hervert deflect the shot wide. Hervert also came up big on a Sidney Van Hon breakaway.
Once McGraw made his spectacular slide on Sunderland’s first breakaway, the Huskies’ camp sensed its third tie in its last four games.
Somehow, Battle Mountain found a way. Huskies striker Ubaldo Trujillo threaded a beautiful ball from the left side that sprung Sunderland, and the Huskies and good-sized crowd had something for which to cheer.
“I think it’s huge,” Battle Mountain coach David Cope said. “(Co-captain) Connor Tedstrom said to the boys in the locker room before the game, ‘Don’t let any doubt creep into your mind after those two ties. Make sure you believe you can play until the end of the game.’ It turned out to be pretty prophetic. In this league race, there are going to be more ties and it’s going to be a tight race. Anytime you can get three points in this race is going to be huge.”
Tuesday’s game was the opening of the stadium on Battle Mountain’s new campus in Edwards. The game lived up to the facility.
“I think the guys will remember that one,” Cope joked. ” I kind of felt that if we kept pressing, something would fall for us. Over the last two weeks, we haven’t had a ton of luck. I almost fell like we were due for something to fall for us.”
The new field was fast and very wide. Eighty yards wide, both teams seemed surprised by how big the pitch was. It is the biggest surface upon which 4A Slope teams will be playing within the league.
“It’s great. We loved it,” Sunderland said. “The fans were awesome. It’s awesome to play here finally.”
For Cope, who’s been coaching the boys soccer team since 1993, Tuesday’s game was a seminal moment. He was an ardent supporter getting lights and turf installed at the new facility.
“It’s pretty good huh? ‘It’s late September and I really should be back at school,’ said Rod Stewart once,'” Cope said. “It’s the culmination of a long process and it’s a great thing not just for Battle Mountain soccer, but for Battle Mountain athletics. Thanks to everyone who made it possible and to everyone who came out.”
Both teams have huge games coming up. The Huskies (3-0-2 in the Slope and 4-0-2 overall) host Montrose Thursday night and Cheyenne Mountain Saturday. Meanwhile, Glenwood (2-1-1, 4-1-2) heads to Steamboat Springs Thursday.
After that, the Huskies call on Glenwood Tuesday for the rematch.
Devils smash Palisade
GYPSUM – With points being hard to come by so far in the 4A Slope soccer chase, Eagle Valley held serve Tuesday night.
The Devils pounded Palisde, 9-1, at Hot Stuff Stadium to sweep the season series from the Bulldogs.
As is Eagle Valley’s calling card, the scoring came from all directions. David Shea and Nate Barker both scored twice. Miguel Holguin, Marco Escobar and Kevin Escobar all found the back of the net. Enrique Garcia scored his first varsity goal and goalie Mario Gonzalez even got in on the act, scoring as a field player.
“We had good energy,” Devils coach Jason Rittmiller said. “We had forwards on defense, defender playing forward. It was good.”
Eagle Valley (3-0-1, 5-0-1) is at Rifle Thursday.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.