On to Round 2: Huskies win, 5-1
EAGLE-VAIL – First came the thumping of the drumline. Then, nearly the entire Battle Mountain student body exited en masse, making its way to the soccer field. And after that, well, the Huskies took over and put on the show.It took all of one minute for No. 9 Battle Mountain to get on the board, and the Huskies rolled to a 5-1 win over No. 24 Mountain Range Wednesday in the first round of the 4A state playoffs.”We set the tone early, and that’s what you want to do against a young team,” said Battle Mountain coach David Cope.The Huskies gave the large crowd sitting on the hill in Eagle-Vail plenty to cheer about, netting three goals in the first half with creative ball movement.”That was great – coming out in front of this crowd and winning,” said Battle Mountain forward Jose Pavon, who had two goals and an assist. “We’ve never had a game like that all season long.”Battle Mountain used its size and age advantage against the first-year Mountain Range team composed of mostly freshman.”Every team we’ve played this year has been bigger and more experienced, but we’ve had none of that,” said Mustangs’ assistant coach Brad McNear. “We’ve just gone out and played our game the best we can.”
The Mustangs created a few chances in the first half on free kicks and long shots, but Battle Mountain keeper D.J. Van Curan was in perfect position each time.And the Huskies’ multiple offensive threats and advantage in ball possession put the game out of reach after 40 minutes.”That was a classic (Battle Mountain) game, for sure,” said Huskies’ co-captain Erik Garcia. “How many different guys scored today?”Four.”That’s us,” Garcia said.Two wheelsThe Huskies’ Wilder Heuga netted the game’s first goal, thanks to three good touches by his teammates. Pavon started the play with a great cross from deep on the right flank that Ricky Luevanos chested and then played into the air. With his back to the net, Garcia threw his body into the air parallel to the ground, and sent the ball toward Mountain Range keeper Jeremy Davey.”Who pulls out a bicycle kick?” Van Curan chided Garcia after the game.
Davey looked to collect the slow shot, but the ball rolled through his hands and Heuga was there to pound it home.On the Huskies’ next four goals, Davey, the converted midfielder, had little chance to make a save.”We scored some good goals, and could have scored other goals,” Cope said. In the 23rd minute, Garcia won a ball 10 yards outside the Huskies’ box and fed Pavon, who had swooped into the Huskies’ final third.”We talked about (Pavon) checking back to midfield more,” Cope said. “He checked to Erik Garcia, got the ball, ran onto it and scored.”Pavon ran down the left end of the field, and when he reached the Mustangs’ box, cut across, leading two defenders and Davey. With a quick blast to the left corner, Pavon doubled the Battle Mountain lead.Right before the goal, Mountain Range’s Aaron Maczuga ripped a shot from 30 yards outside the box that headed for the top right corner of the net, but Van Curan got a hand on the ball.With less than a minute to play before halftime, the Huskies’ Rudy Solis one-touched a ball from teammate Chris Woodruff 10 yards outside the box and blasted it into right corner.”We want players who, when they get the opening, they have the confidence to take the responsibility to shoot,” Cope said. “The thing about goals like that is they are goals against any team.”
A useful 80 minutesMountain Range had already accomplished its goal for the season in advancing to the playoffs.”They’ve done an awesome job,” McNear said. “For a bunch of freshman and a couple sophomores, they’ve come out all season and worked hard. We made it to state in our inaugural year, and we’ll only get better every year.”Christian Caruso, one of the Mustangs’ captains, welcomed the opportunity to face a team like Battle Mountain.”It’s a good challenge,” Caruso said. “It’s chance for us to get to learn how to play with them. They played the entire game and didn’t let down. They had good possession and we didn’t capitalize on our chances.”There would be no second-half slump for the Huskies. Right off the bat, Solis nearly picked up another goal, moving around Davey and a Mountain Range defender, only to nail the crossbar.”You just think about scoring the next goal that is going to put them away,” Pavon said.Pavon scored his team’s fourth goal on a penalty kick. After a giant punt by Van Curan, Huega touched the ball to Pavon, who got tripped up in the box by Davey. Pavon looked left on the penalty kick, but buried it to the right side.
“Jose did well with that penalty, which is important because you never know when one will come up later (in the playoffs),” Cope said.On the fifth goal, Pavon worked a Mountain Range defender near the end line with a nutmeg and found an open Nick Franco in the box. Franco collected the ball and scored on a left-footed strike.Mountain Range got on the board late in the game when Mustangs’ defender Cole Nielsen teed up a long free kick that teammate Cameron De Jac headed past Huskies’ backup keeper Clint Hervert. Even with an insurmountable lead for the final 40 minutes, the Battle Mountain continued to string together passes and used the flanks of the field.”If we can boss the midfield, win the majority of balls and maintain possession, we’ve got a chance (in the latter rounds),” Cope said. “This sets up a great game on Saturday.”With the victory, the Huskies advance to the second round for the third year in a row. Battle Mountain faces No. 8 Conifer Saturday at 5 p.m. at the North Area Athletic Complex in Boulder. Conifer beat Windsor, 4-0, Wednesday.”It’s exciting to see the Jeffco champs (Conifer) against the Western Slope champs (Battle Mountain),” Cope said. “It’ll be for our own west-of-Denver championship.”Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or email@example.com.
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Jeff Shiffrin, with his wife, Eileen, made the Vail area their home decades ago, and together raised Mikaela and Taylor Shiffrin, who was a member of the two-time NCAA Champion University of Denver Ski Team.