New Huskies look for old formula in Edwards
EDAWRDS, Colorado ” Battle Mountain girls soccer still has a LyBarger and a Stevens. No Huskies soccer team can be without a Seibert ” that’s a school rule and this year’s crew complies. And Battle Mountain appears to be between VanHees.
So that would be Maddie LyBarger, Madison Stevens, Lizzie Seibert with likely Kendall VanHee due next year as the Huskies gear up for a new year which starts with next Thursday’s opener against Eagle Valley in Edwards.
While the faces are, by and large, different, the goal remains the same in Battle Mountain ” to be there with Steamboat Springs at the end of the season in the hunt for a league title.
“It’s definitely a younger bunch,” senior striker Kayla Telles said. “We need to pick up the intensity a little bit. It’s different not having Emily (LyBarger) around because she’s always really intense. We’ve got a lot to live up to, but we’re coming together.”
The Huskies graduated eight seniors from last year’s team, which made it back-to-back 4A Slope titles as well as compiling the first 15-0 regular-season record in program history.
With two-time Western Slope Player of the year Emily LyBarger now at the University of Louisiana-Monroe as well as stalwarts such as Kelly VanHee, Jamie Lee Roberts, McKenzie Stevens and Jenny Banner also pursuing bigger and better things, the Huskies have holes to fill. And those are bigger than graduation after Marisa Ammaturo, who had 26 goals and 17 assists last year, transferred out of Battle Mountain.
Cope still likes the challenge.
“That’s just opportunities for other people,” said Cope who starts his sixth year as the girls soccer coach. “I look back at a number of soccer years ” 2006 with the boys where we lost a lot of good players, (Andy) Banner and the like. They didn’t expect to be league champs and had people who didn’t expect to be starters. That’s the great thing about high school sports, the opportunity for maybe people who don’t envision themselves as champions.”
Ever the history teacher, Cope was recalling that 2006 boys’ squad which tied Summit and lost to Steamboat Springs to start the season, only to run the league table for a third-straight Slope title.
Meet the Huskies
While there are new faces, the same question faces the 2009 Huskies it has in previous years: Will Battle Mountain be solid enough on defense and in the net?
That brings the spotlight to the youngest of the LyBarger sisters, Maddie. While Emily held down center midfield for the last four years, Cope will be asking Maddie to play the same role from center back.
“You start with Maddie LyBarger and build the defense around her,” Cope said. “We have a long tradition of center backs going back to Morgi (Wallace). She fits in that role. That’s where we expect Maddie to step in, to run the team from center back.”
LyBarger feels up to the challenge, but it’s something she’s going to attack in her own right.
“Emily is Emily,” she said. “I guess we do play the same game, but I’m definitely trying to do my own thing.”
Katie Gray, Sydney Idzikowski, Madison Stevens and Nallely Rodriguez should all see time around LyBarger. Cope has a spirited competition in goal with Nicole Frye, Moira Laughlin and Erin Barker.
The midfield’s crown jewel is unquestionably Seibert, who had 21 goals and 12 assists last year, including the biggest goal of the season in a 1-0 win against Steamboat Springs.
“Lizzie’s probably the most technically proficient player we have, honorable mention all-state last year, played in the All-State Game,” Cope said. “She’s just a kid who rarely has a bad touch through 80 minutes.”
There is plenty of talent at midfield. Senior Katie Gilbert is one of those players which Cope sees coming up from the JV ranks and having an immediate impact in the footsteps of players like Mike Scigliano and Gus Everly in previous falls.
In addition to Gilbert, look for Emmy Young, Haille Hogfeldt, Carrie Wild, Miriah Jones and Barker, if not in net, to see time here.
Up front, Josie Tuthill, who missed the first half of last season, will have a full slate in front of her. Tuthill along with Telles give the Huskies plenty of firepower at striker. Freshmen Maddi Erye and Emily Eyrich will also get a look on the offensive end.
The 4A Slope has a new look to it and the Huskies couldn’t be happier about it. With prodding from both Battle Mountain and Steamboat, the league has two divisions. The North has the Huskies and Sailors, who should battle it out as usual, along with Eagle Valley and Moffat County. Battle Mountain’s at Steamboat April 4 and the Sailors come to Edwards April 28.
The Huskies will play North Division foes twice and have one meeting each with Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Palisade and Delta from the South. The team with the highest point total, regardless of division, snags the league crown.
With just 10 league games this season, the Huskies will get to test their mettle outside the Slope. Battle Mountain keeps its usual date with Summit County (March 12), but will be heading to the Valor Christian Tournament just before spring break to get a look at some Front Range competition. The Huskies also finish the season at Wheat Ridge, a Jeffco League power.
“It’s definitely going to be different this year,” LyBarger said. “There are going to be teams out there looking for us. There’s a lot of young talent out there and our freshmen are good, so they better be ready for Battle Mountain.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.