Huskies dump rival Demons in 4A playoff opener
Game is closer than regular season meeting, but Battle Mountain still prevails with a 2-0 win
EDWARDS — Seeds and style points don’t matter in the playoffs — only wins.
So, no, Thursday’s 4A postseason opener for Battle Mountain against familiar rival Glenwood Springs wasn’t the prettiest display of soccer ever seen on home side’s pitch, but the sixth-seeded Huskies will take it.
Battle Mountain advanced to the second round with a 2-0 win to earn a meeting with No. 22 Northridge on Wednesday. The Grizzlies knocked off No. 11 Eagle Valley in Gypsum on Thursday night in a double-overtime, double-heartburn thriller, nixing an anticipated rematch between the Devils and Huskies.
Instead of getting their downvalley rivals again in what would have been a playoff first, the 10-5-1 Huskies will look to punch their ticket to the state quarterfinals against an 11-2-3 Grizzlies squad.
Huskies coach Dave Cope was channeling the late, great Jim Valvano after the victory, which ended with Battle Mountain students charging the field to celebrate.
“It’s like the old NC State thing, for those that remember,” Cope said. “Survive and advance. It was pretty tidy in the sense that we didn’t allow really any chances and we scored two good goals, so I’m pretty happy with it.”
It wasn’t pretty at times, and the Huskies certainly missed on a few key scoring chances that could have put the game away earlier against a team they’d hammered, 5-1, on Oct. 18. But there was never really any doubt, either, about the final result after Sam Koontz banged in the Huskies’ first goal in the 29th minute.
That’s because the Huskies never really let the Demons get any solid strikes on goal. Huskies goalie Cruz Ramirez had a pretty uneventful night between the crossbars.
“I thought we were super defensively,” Cope said. “And not just our defenders — all the way from the goalkeeper to the forwards. Whenever we lost a ball, everybody was working hard. And, hey, in the playoffs, if you don’t allow a goal, you’re going to keep advancing.”
Koontz’s goal came off a gorgeous assist from Alexis Dozal, who ran down a long pass on the left side and drove toward the net before passing off. Koontz had what looked to be a sure goal on a similar play in the seventh minute, but the Demons’ keeper deflected the shot.
Playing on the road against a higher-seeded team, the Demons were already up against it, so it didn’t help when Erick Cordero punched the Huskies’ Leo Soto with 22 minutes to go, drawing a red card. That left the Demons to finish the match with just 10 players.
The Huskies added the insurance goal with about 10 minutes to go when Saul Sinaoloa knocked in a penalty kick after senior Bryant Ramirez drew the whistle in the box.
“He’s a good goalie, so I just hit it really fast down the middle,” Sinaoloa said. “It feels really good. I think we played really good.”