LyBarger repeats as Player of the Year
EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” If the members of Battle Mountain’s girls soccer team were able to wear all the awards they won this season, they’d put a highly-decorated Marine to shame.
The 4A Slope’s Player of the Year for the second-straight spring is Emily LyBarger.
Coach of the Year went to David Cope. That’s the sixth time he’s won that award on either the boys’ or girls’ side.
In addition to LyBarger, Kelly VanHee and Marisa Ammaturo nabbed all-league recognition. Lizzie Seibert, Maddie LyBarger and Jamie Lee Roberts made the honorable-mention roll.
So where does all the hardware go?
“My dad has a box where we put all the awards,” Emily LyBarger said.
Get a bigger box, Tim.
Battle Mountain has had several accomplished soccer players win the award, but Emily LyBarger is the first at the school to win the Slope’s Player of the Year twice.
Then again, LyBarger isn’t your average soccer star. Her stats are impressive (14 goals and six assists), but they only tell part of the story.
A starter all four years at Battle Mountain in the midfielder, LyBarger turned into the team’s focal point as an upperclassman, both in voice and in her actions. Cope has often called her “coach on the field.”
“The last couple of years I have tried to become more vocal to help the team,” LyBarger said. “If one girls starts talking, everyone starts to talk and have more energy and play better.”
LyBarger also showed panache in areas that don’t often get noticed by the casual soccer fan. Battle Mountain got lots of ink this year for its high-powered offense, and deservedly so. But it was LyBarger with her steady nature, organizational skill and ability to develop the transition from defense to offense that enabled the likes of Ammaturo and Seibert to put up big numbers.
“It’s her presence on the field, her ability to run the show,” Cope said. “It’s a special thing to have a person on your team be the conductor of the orchestra.”
Cope … again
For the third time in four years, Coach of the Year went to Battle Mountain. Cope handed the honor last year to assistant coach Jen Davin and essentially credited everyone in Huskies Nation this year.
“The kids make you look smart when you go 15-0,” Cope joked.
Cope or Davin have won this award three times in the last four years in the spring. He also won it on the boys’ side from 2004-06.
“I think he is such a good coach,” said LyBarger, who works uner many coaches while playing club soccer. “I have so much respect for him and Jen. They let us play as players, and at the same time, control things. Cope and Jen are my favorite soccer coaches.”
A VanHee … again
Like LyBarger, pure goals and assists numbers didn’t put VanHee on the all-league team. Then again, she probably had the biggest helper of the year, a pass to Lizzie Seibert in a 1-0 win against Steamboat Springs.
The second (Kate, 2006) from her family to earn all-league, VanHee is equally talented and gritty. She technically played right fullback for Battle Mountain, but her versatility and ability to read the game made her a threat on both ends of the pitch.
“I don’t think I would have been able to do that without the defense,” VanHee said. “I think my teammates helped me do that.”
And then there was the physical side of her game. While doing nothing untoward on the pitch, she gave no ground.
“She has really matured as a player,” Cope said.
New Dynamic Duo
After Kelsey Sanders and Julia Burnett graduated last spring, one question facing the team was who was going to score?
That would be Ammaturo and Seibert, who combined for a staggering 47 goals, one more than Sanders and Burnett had in 2007.
Ammaturo, who also had 17 assists, deservedly made all-league.
“It was awesome,” she said. “At the banquet, I was biting my nails when Cope said, ‘First team,’ I think I might have been blushing.”
What might be cause for blushing was why Seibert ended up with honorable-mention instead of all-league honors. While that had some in the Huskies’ camp shaking their heads, it takes nothing away from a sensational sophomore season (21 goals and 12 assists).
“The kid is so solid technically,” Cope said. “She loves the ball. When you watch soccer at any level, there are people who want to get rid of the ball to avoid making mistakes. Then there is the player who wants the ball to create. She is a true playmaker.”
On team known for its scoring, three of Battle Mountain’s four backliners made the postseason honor roll. Along with VanHee, Maddie LyBarger and Roberts got the nod.
Several sibling combinations have been all-league during different points in their lives, but Battle Mountain hasn’t had a pair on the same team in recent memory.
“Last year, she got some looks because she was a tough kid who liked to compete,” Cope said. “This year, she started to contribute in terms of skill. She’s getting to where she can hold down the back or the middle. She connects passes and can score goals. She’s a different player than her sister, but has really developed her game.”
Roberts asked Cope at the beginning of the season in February for a few days off. The coach was fine with that, not worrying about her reporting to camp in shape. After all, Roberts had just finished winning the Skimeister, an award for being Colorado’s best all-around high school skier.
Roberts was indeed in fine shape come spring for soccer or track, two of the five varsity sports in which she competed this year.
“We have been blessed to have center backs who have been of such quality in Sydney Nichols, Morgan Wallace and Liz Gladitsch, and now, Jamie Lee Roberts,” Cope said. “She has a calm presence to organize things in back and be able to pick someone up when they make a mistake.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or email@example.com.
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