Mullen prevails over Battle Mountain in soccer State semi-finals
Huskies season ends with 3-0 loss to the Mustangs
If the Battle Mountain High School Huskies were considered as underdogs going into last Saturday’s quarterfinal against The Classical Academy, then they would have had to be considered a one-in-a-million shot in last night’s semifinal against No. 2 Mullen.
While they had played TCA to a 1-0 loss in the regular season before their 4-0 playoff blowout last week, in their first meeting against the Mustangs on Aug. 21, the Huskies were on the wrong end of a 5-0 score. Granted, David Cope’s crew was coming off of a double-overtime game against Durango the night before that first match, while Mullen came in fresh. Regardless, even Lloyd Christmas, when faced with similar odds, famously proclaimed, “There’s still a chance!”
Movie references aside, coming out the victor at Legacy Stadium was destined to be a tall order for the black and gold. Cope expected Mullen to play long, direct, and physical and knew the Huskies needed to match the physicality and add their own bit of flair and swagger.
“It could be an ugly game if they dictate the tempo, or a beautiful one if we set the pace and get the ball,” he stated before the game.
Led by Eli Kerschen and Andrew DeBerardinis, who came into the game with 26 goals and 16 goals, respectively, the Mustangs ended up establishing the quick pace and asserting their will.
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In the second half, Kerschen’s header off of a long centering pass put Mullen up 3-0. The Huskies worked to counter immediately, but Mustang goalkeeper Andrew McGrath, who came into the game having allowed only five goals on the entire season, squashed a golden Husky scoring opportunity 7 minutes into the half, securing a centering pass that sat right in front of the net for a tense moment.
The Huskies had more opportunities but couldn’t capitalize. Joseph Fernandez had a great look from point-blank range in the 27th minute, but his direct kick on goal was easily scooped up by McGrath.
Even though the season ended with a loss, Battle Mountain’s culture endures.
“There is a continuity to the Huskies and a togetherness,” Cope said in a written statement regarding the program.
After the game, he felt content with the effort.
“Very proud of this senior class,” he said. “The word “family” gets thrown around a lot in sports and workplaces, but here it is real.”