Let’s play hockey, er, soccer
EAGLE-VAIL – Where’s Austin Chow when you need him?It’s Battle Mountain-Cheyenne and the now-Princeton freshman dropped four goals on the Indians in a 5-1 semifinal win last February. Granted that was hockey and the two teams will be squaring off in soccer today in Round 2 of the 4A state playoffs at 1 p.m. in Eagle-Vail”Austin Chow’s going to be here. We’ll take him. I think he’s got a year of eligibility in this sport,” Huskies coach David Cope joked.”We’ve had a few bad memories, but more frequently good memories,” Huskies soccer striker and hockey forward Casey Kleisinger. “Those are the good old days. Now, we have to make some new memories.”To make those memories, the No. 5 Huskies (15-1) will have to play one of their best games of the year against the No. 12 Indians (10-4-2).Cope actually has tabbed his team as the underdog today.”It’s going to be a competitive game,” Cope said. “They finished third in a good league, although I continue to maintain that our league is a good league. They’re going to be solid. You have to say, based on history, that they’re the favorite. Having said that, playing here in the second round is a huge advantage. We’ve never had that before.”
Defense, firstCheyenne advanced to today’s game with a 3-0 win against Pueblo West. Battle Mountain struggled early, but broke away from Evergreen in the second half for a 5-3 win.The three goals concern the Huskies. Battle Mountain’s defense had only given up three goals only one other time this season in a September match against Rifle. Those three came after Battle Mountain built up a sizable lead.That puts the spotlight on the back three of Connor Drumm, Pete Seibert and Taylor Telling.”We’ve got to be more solid. We just can’t dive into the plays,” Drumm said. “We can’t take a play off. If we score, we’ve got to get right back into it. Last game, that was a big thing. Right after we scored, they scored. We can’t be satisfied with a one-goal lead or tied.”Granted also, Battle Mountain was without starting keeper Josh Ruark who was sitting out a red card against Evergreen. D.J. Van Curan filled in well, but Ruark is the starter for a reason. “He’s excited,” Cope said. “The kid hasn’t played for a week. He’s looking forward to it. He played in a playoff game last year and he definitely wants to go deep this year.”
Injuries and weatherBattle Mountain has a few dings. Drumm, Kleisinger, Joel Gonzales, and Gustavo Bronfield are all knicked up. Cope has had them take it easy this week in practice.”Those guys are all fine. It’s just precautionary,” Cope said. “I think when their adrenaline comes and the game starts, hopefully, the trainer will give them a nice tape job, nobody will hesitate. The guys have had a couple of days to rest. They’ve got another 24 hours. I don’t see any concern.”Another factor could be weather. According to Weather.com, both teams are looking at a high of 41 with a mix of rain and snow.”Maybe that’s a positive for us,” Cope said. “Our boys, as Everado (Gonzales) used to say, ‘Vivimos en Colorado.’ (We live in Colorado.) If we get weather, we go. We play.”On the attack
Both teams are balanced – 17 Indians have goals this year. It’s 16 for the Huskies. Cheyenne Mountain will definitely be looking at Edgar Hernandez’s 15 goals as well as 12 from Bronfield. But the Huskies are multi-faceted with Kleisinger, Gonzales, Tyler Cole and the emerging Jose Pavon.”We’ve got a number of guys who could break loose – Pavon, Edgar, Casey,” Cope said. “So we have some guys who can score goals. As I said to the boys, we have excellent goalkeeping. We’ve got athletic defenders. We have midfielders who can play the game, knock it around and possess the ball. We have forwards who can be creative. Those are the building blocks of a good team.””They obviously have the experience, but I think we have the skill that can override that,” Kleisinger said. “Tyler Cole and Kyle Moore, they’re like all-state players. You know your team’s going to be fine.”Home, sweet homeBattle Mountain is hosting a second-round home game for the first time in school history. The Huskies have lost just one game on the soccer pitch in the last three years.”It’s great,” Drumm said. “Last game, the fan support was awesome. The field, you can’t get a better advantage than that. It’s so wide and it’s in perfect condition right now. It’s just nice to be at home, instead of traveling.”Kleisinger is more than happy not to be going down to the Springs with his hockey experience.
“It’s better to look at all the people on your side than other people,” he said. “We definitely found that out in hockey. We were overwhelmed in Colorado Springs (against Air Academy).”There’s also the big mo theory. With cross country at state today and volleyball hosting the District 8 Tournament, there’s a winning buzz in the air in Eagle-Vail.”You can feel it in the halls,” Cope said. “‘Good luck tomorrow. Hey, good luck to you tomorrow.’ This is Halloween and everyone’s still playing? That’s exciting. There’s a sense of achievement. There a sense of competition. Who’s going to be still playing to the end here?”Just for kicksBattle Mountain will be charging $5 for adults and $4 for students to go to the game. This is to comply with CHSAA rules, which requires teams to charge in the second round to defray traveling costs for the visiting team. CHSAA had wanted Battle Mountain to play this game at Phelan Field which is not as conducive to the Huskies’ style of play. The bottom line is please don’t take it out on the volunteers. They’re just doing their job. … Looking at common opponents, Cheyenne and the Huskies have both beaten Sand Creek. The Indians beat Summit, 2-1, and the Huskies fell to the Tigers, 3-2, in overtime. … Around the Slope, No. 13 Glenwood fell to No. 20. D’Evelyn. The winner of today’s game plays the winner of No. 4 Pine Creek and D’Evelyn. The Huskies are most definitely rooting for D’Evelyn. That would mean a quarterfinal home game next week. … The big upset in Round 1 was No. 25 Ralston Valley knocking off No. 8 Grand Junction Central. Ralston Valley now heads to No. 9 Montrose today. There was another mild upset as No. 19 Widefield beat No. 14 Alamosa. Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or email@example.com.Vail, Colorado