Palacios lifts the Devils over the Huskies
GYPSUM — It is no longer a rivalry simply by geography. It officially means something on the pitch and in the 4A Slope table.
Eagle Valley boys soccer, after downing Battle Mountain last fall, 2-0, for its first win against its Eagle County rival since 1999, informed everyone it wasn’t a fluke. The Devils made it two in a row over the Huskies with a 1-0 victory on Thursday night at John Ramunno Field in Gypsum.
Eagle Valley senior Aldo Palacios scored on a free kick from Luis Arredondo in the 66th minute and it stood.
“It means so much,” Palacios said. “This is my senior year, so scoring this goal means a lot to me.”
It clearly meant a lot to a lot of people. When the whistle blew, Eagle Valley’s student body mobbed its squad in celebration. After the handshakes, the Devils ran through a tunnel of fans and gathered again to jump up and down with their partisans and sing “Ole.”
“I think it’s a mental state of mind,” Devils coach Bratzo Horruitiner said. “(Battle Mountain) comes in with a really strong reputation, of winners and victory. I love all those boys and know they can play, but it’s now time for us. We can play.”
And the standings show it. Eagle Valley and Battle Mountain leave Round 1 of the rivalry with 2-1 records overall and are both 1-1 in what is a wide-open 4A Slope.
“I think the kids have to realize this was a close game,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “It could have gone either way and you can’t fault anyone’s effort out there. I thought all the kids put in such an effort. In the end, it was a coin toss. I don’t think our kids should be too disheartened.”
Both coaches referred to the game as a coin toss during postgame. It came down to Arredondo’s free kick in the second half. Ironically, it appeared that the Huskies were attempting to work Arredondo’s side on the defensive end of the field for most of the evening.
Arredondo sent it in and Palacios got a foot on it to send it by Huskies keeper Jack Skidmore.
While the Huskies had more opportunities in the first half, Skidmore was the hero for keeping it a scoreless game going into the later stages. The Devils’ Aaron Ledezma had a breakaway in the 15th minute, only to be stymied by Skidmore’s kick save with his right foot.
“I thought we had a very good first half,” Cope said. “I thought we were very composed. In the second half, it got choppy. Part of that is cards and injuries and all those things that happen. I felt we never really got into it in the second half. I think you have to give a lot of credit to Eagle Valley. Once they got the goal, they defended so well. They played really well.”
Long way to go
Despite the playoff atmosphere at Ramunno Field on Thursday, both squads have 12 more regular-season games to play, including the rematch up in Edwards on Oct. 15.
Eagle Valley seems to have found its footing, winning two in a row after a tough season-opening loss against Glenwood Springs last weekend. That said, Horruitiner was the first to mention that the Devils notched a huge win against Steamboat Springs last fall, only to lose at Delta in the next game. In a related development, Eagle Valley’s next game is at Delta on Saturday.
Meanwhile, the Huskies continue their nomadic ways with their fourth road game to start the season at Steamboat Springs on Tuesday.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.