Jonesy pushes Huskies through
He started in August as the starting goalkeeper for Battle Mountain, only to get hurt in warmups of the season opener. He eventually lost his job to Beau Beckley and was seemingly out of the picture.
In short, his fortunes seemed to mirror those of his team.
But happily, Jones persevered and so have the Huskies. After a year when the Huskies struggled in close game after close game, it was Jones, now playing as a striker, who lifted the Huskies in the 73rd minute Saturday at Alamosa to a 1-0 regional-playoff victory.
“I still have a bunch of emotions in me,” Jones said by phone from the team bus. “I still haven’t celebrated to the full extent.”
Or as the normally mild-mannered David Cope said, “We’re in the clouds.”
And the Huskies deserve to be there for a day or two before coming down to prepare for the state playoffs. The Huskies are going to the dance for the first time since 1998 when they qualified as a 3A squad. They had never qualified for the 4A state tournament before Saturday.
“When we got bumped to 4A, there was talk that we wouldn’t be competitive,” Cope said. “It’s a credit to all these guys who said that we’re going to qualify whether we’re in 3A or 4A. All along, we said that we thought this team could take it a step further. They took the challenge and achieved it today.”
Looking back over the last three weeks, this scenario seemed rather improbable. Battle Mountain went 0-2-2 down the stretch to finish third in the 4A Slope. More distressingly, it seemed like the Huskies were repeating their traditional pattern of a fast start and a stumbling finish.
The Huskies played with poise all afternoon. As has been its m.o. all season, Battle Mountain produced chance after chance, including nice opportunities from Antonio Aparicio, J.D. Lemon and Andy Banner.
Then finally came the elusive goal. Alex Penwill started the play with a feed to Lemon. The senior put a shot on the frame. The Alamosa goalie made the save, but Jones was there for the rebound and he roofed it.
“The keeper knocked (Lemon’s) shot down,” Jones said. “It bounced off his arm and I scissor-kicked it into the goal. It was pretty sweet. It was insane. I was jumping all over. Everybody was running toward me.”
“I’m psyched for Jonesy,” Cope said. “He’s seen the goaltending job go to Beau. I’m sure he was wondering if he was ever going to get into a game and then he scores the game-winning goal in a playoff game.”
As for the aforementioned Beckley, he, well, stood tall.
“He dominated the box,” Cope said. “The few times we made a mistake in back, he came out of his area to clear the ball with his feet. That’s a strength he’s developed. And, they had a corner kick late. The box is totally crowded, but then you see this big 6-foot-7 guy rise up with his sure hands and catch it. Any misplay there and we might have been going to overtime.”
The Huskies did have another scare when Alamosa scored in the waning minutes. But it was waved off due to offsides, the sort of break for which Battle Mountain has been searching all year.
Just for kicks: Kyle Netzband left the game with a calf contusion. … The 4A state bracket goes up on the Web today at 1:30 p.m. Just click on http://www.chsaa.org.
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or email@example.com.