No. 16 Battle Mountain falls to No. 2 Northfield 3-0 in 4A state title game
Huskies finish one of their more memorable seasons with second-place state trophy
No. 16 Battle Mountain’s magical run to the 4A state soccer championship game didn’t have a fairy-tale finish, but it wasn’t for a lack of hustle, toughness or fight. In fact, Saturday night’s 3-0 loss to the now two-time champion Northfield Nighthawks was a game where the scoreboard didn’t tell the whole story — namely that it was defined by just two moments that went against the Huskies. But hey, that’s soccer.
“Soccer is a funny game,” head coach Dave Cope aptly summarized of the two fluky Nighthawk first-half goals that would prove detrimental to his team’s upset bid. After Northfield capitalized off an awkward bounce rebound goal four minutes into the game and added another breakaway score 20 minutes later, it was the No. 16 Huskies who had the No. 2 Nighthawks on edge.
“We had the No. 2 seed on the ropes,” Cope said.
After eluding a problematic free kick from the top of the penalty circle just 30 seconds into the game, Edwyn Montes — whom Cope described as the rock, the “piano carrier” of the team — helped Battle Mountain settle down and get into their system. Like they have throughout the season, the seniors Montes and Arturo Aguilar and the shifty Alexis Dozal proved tough matchups for Northfield. Dozal set up Aguilar with a good look from the wing that was wrapped up by Northfield goalie Zander Kosmas with 32 minutes to go.
Three minutes later, however, the defending champs strutted their stuff.
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Jack Freimann took a deflection off the bounce and belted the one-hopper into the left side of the net from the penalty circle to give Northfield an early 1-0 advantage.
“They were opportunistic,” Cope said. “But we didn’t quit, we worked hard and then we got them on the ropes.”
The Huskies replied with two shots from Daniel Sanchez and Jonathan Espinoza in the 22nd and 23rd minutes, respectively, but both opportunities ended with Kosmas’ catches. Then, with 15:30 to go, Ren Garfield received a pass with open pastures ahead. Kneeing it himself, Garfield moved inside of 30 yards. It looked like Husky goalie Zeke Alvarez assumed he could meet the ball before the junior midfielder reached the penalty circle, but Garfield anticipated the goalie’s move, bumping it over to the left at just the right time, and the goalie could only turn and watch the game’s second goal roll into the net.
From that point on, the Huskies controlled possession and pressed into Northfield.
“Anybody who came into the stadium, unaffiliated would have let your emotion and style of play and skill win them over,” Cope would tell his squad in the locker room after, referring in large part to the fight and resiliency the underdogs demonstrated in the second half.
“In any sport, that’s what you want: to show your character. And there’s no regrets, we left it all on the field.”
The consequence of their aggressive posture was that, Quinn Tettero was able to get behind the defense in the final minute, putting a 3-0 stamp on the successful title defense.
Battle Mountain finished the 2022 season 13-5-2.
“Coming into the year, no one really believed in us,” senior captain Edwyn Montes said. Montes and his four senior teammates took their careers from the c-team to junior varsity and, after hardly receiving varsity minutes on last year’s senior-led semifinal team, all the way to the state title in their final hurrah.
“We kept our text message thread as ‘c-team’” Montes smiled, a little reminder of his and Manny Molina’s, Aguilar’s, and Diego Rodriguez’s journey.
“That’s an incredible story,” Cope said of his seniors. “When someone thinks you can’t do a job, when you have difficult moments in any endeavor, you can hold onto that.”
“They’ve had one of the all-time great Battle Mountain seasons,” he praised of his young team, which, at one point this year had just the third-best record in the Western Slope.
“I couldn’t be prouder of them.”