Reloading, not rebuilding for Battle Mountain soccer
So, what’s next for the crown princes of Battle Mountain athletics?
Huskies boys soccer has been on a bit of a run for nearly 20 years — 19 straight postseason appearances, 10 Slope crowns in the last 13 seasons, two state-final appearances — a title in 2012 and surprise runner-up showing last fall.
The bar is high at Battle Mountain. Creek Kamby and Cody Bahan graduated, and their combined 28 goals and 22 assists graduated. Miles Joersz, Taylor Staughton and Brandon Rodriguez turned their tassels as well, leaving a big hole in the defense and the transition upfield.
Then there’s Erik Solis and David Barajas, and five more seniors gone from last year’s team.
Battle Mountain’s been here before, and it’s pretty simply. The Huskies don’t rebuild; they reload.
The cupboard is not bare
It’s important to note that not everyone graduated. Juan Macias returns and he’s a pretty good player. While putting up 20 goals and 16 assists, he got better as the season, including the playoffs, continued.
Battle Mountain soccer hasn’t had a player like that return since Roberto Diaz in 2013. That’s good company historically for Macias.
Alan Villegas is back in net for the Huskies, and that’s another asset for David Cope’s crew. As a junior, Villegas earned his spurs, particularly with big postseason performances against Silver Creek and Pueblo West.
And then there’s the Hugh Wodlinger Principle of Huskies Soccer. As Battle Mountain has grown as a program, Cope has been able to bring up players who rode the varsity bench the previous year or from the JV ranks seamlessly.
Young Wodlinger was one of the first to do so way back when, so it’s his principle. Many have followed in making their senior years on varsity quite memorable.
Along those lines, we give you Tony Velasco and Luke Wilson. Velasco was sidelined by injuries for a good portion of 2016, but made quite the impression in the state semi against Pueblo West.
Wilson also got some playing time last year. First off, that’s not the first time the Vail Daily has printed that sentence. Second, Cope is penciling in Wilson at center back for now. Third, the Huskies root for Gonzaga men’s soccer and Southern Methodist University women’s soccer.
In the new-faces category, look for Jorge Membreno up front. He’s been a prolific scorer at the JV level. Cope is looking at Mauricio Castillo in the midfield. The coach calls him the “heir apparent” to players like Bahan and Solis.
With Wilson in back, keep your eye on Harry Jaffe and Hidalgo Ortega.
The Huskies will be trying to make it a three-peat in the Slope. Steamboat Springs is here on Sept. 19 and Battle Mountain goes north on the final day of the season, Oct. 19.
Summit County has given the Huskies problems, and then there is Eagle Valley. Three of Battle Mountain’s last four losses in league play have been at the hands of the Devils in Gypsum. The Huskies host Eagle Valley on Aug. 29 and make the trip to John Ramunno Field on Oct. 5.
The Huskies have a solid nonconference slate with the opener against Vail Mountain on Aug. 26 and road dates against Montrose and The Classical Academy. The last will be a rematch of November’s championship game, not that anyone needed to note that.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.
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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.