Nash is golden as Huskies nip Sailors, 2-1, in Edwards |

Nash is golden as Huskies nip Sailors, 2-1, in Edwards

EDWARDS — Battle Mountain girls soccer is two games clear of the field in the 4A Slope after a thriller of a 2-1 overtime victory over Steamboat Springs on Tuesday in Edwards.

The Huskies’ Logan Nash scored with 3:31 left in the first overtime, keeping the Huskies (6-0 in the league) ahead of Eagle Valley (6-2), Steamboat (5-2) and Palisade (3-2).

Nash broke in on a superb pass from Emily Cope. Nash drew out Sailors keeper Ocoee Wilson, tapped it by her and then had the open net.

“I figured she would (come out),” Nash said. “You just have to get a touch around her and, once you’re past her, it’s all you. It was nice. Also, it was our teammate’s birthday, so we had to win it for her.”

And that would be happy birthday to Battle Mountain midfielder Acacia Ortiz.

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A new wrinkle

Battle Mountain thumped its archrival three times last year — the Huskies and Sailors also played in the league’s bygone championship game in addition to their traditional fixtures — by a count of 12-0.

And that prompted Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann to tinker with his team’s approach. While both sides were cagey in their postgame comments because, as Bohlmann said, “We play them again in a week, so I’ll dodge that question,” Steamboat figured a way to stifle the Huskies’ potent attack.

The Sailors put pressure on the Huskies’ two outside backs, Skye Whitney and Mallory Skidmore, akin to forechecking in hockey. That did three things.

• Whitney and Skidmore could not transition forward as they usually do, and that is critical in the Huskies’ system.

• It forced play to the sidelines, limiting Battle Mountain’s space, which it usually likes to use to run.

• By forcing the play to the sidelines, it took Huskies midfielders Cope and Ortiz out of the game for a while. When those two control the flow, it’s usually good news for Battle Mountain.

Since the Huskies — and Sailors, for that matter; the two teams’ coaches and styles of play mirror each other — like to play wide, they were stymied. Huskies coach David Cope made the unusual move of having his team play up the middle vertically in the second half and in overtime.

Retooling on the fly

The result was a taut affair.

Molly Phannenstiel from Morgan Croke gave the Huskies the lead in the 22nd minute, but the Sailors’ Jordan Floyd responded one minute later with a perfectly arched shot into the top of the Battle Mountain net.

Floyd almost had the game-winner in regulation during the second half with another high shot. That one bounced off the crossbar. Meanwhile, on the other end, Wilson robbed Emily Cope on a shot that seemed destined for the right panel.

Coach David Cope said that his team’s fitness, having been tested in the past two games in four days, was the difference.

“It paid off in these two games, Eagle and tonight,” he said. “I’ve got to give a shout out to our JVs. They were down a goal with 15 minutes to go and won 2-1. For the varsity game, we felt like the last 20 minutes would be ours and the overtime would be ours, and our fitness really played dividends.”

Steamboat, meanwhile, has a lot about which to feel good after this one.

“Win, lose or draw, you always have to measure your effort and your quality,” Bohlmann said. “We come away feeling very good about our effort and our quality. Now it’s what are the little tweaks we can make to make the result a little different?”

Both teams will be tweaking on the fly. Battle Mountain’s at Delta on Thursday and hosts Eagle Valley on Saturday at noon before heading north for the rematch with the Sailors on Tuesday. The Sailors are at Summit on Thursday and home on Saturday against Palisade before Round 2 with the Huskies.

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, and @cfreud.

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