Rifle blanks Huskies 2-0
EAGLE-VAIL – After Rifle’s 2-0 victory Saturday night at Huskies Stadium, the Bears’ fans saved their loudest cheers for goalie Roman Tencza.
And, with good reason.
Early in the second half, with Rifle leading 1-0, Battle Mountain’s Julio Garcia made a perfect feed to teammate, Ivan Ordonez. But, Tencza made the save of the game, sliding to the far post and batting away Ordonez’s shot.
And, that was pretty much the game, as Rifle (9-1 in the 4A Slope) took one step closer to a league title.
“Roman, he’s been very good all year,” Tom Taucher said. “He’s maturing every game and getting better and better and better. He made a very difficult save, and he made it look very easy. He’s been doing this for us all year. The guys have loved him all year.”
Huskies coach David Cope was equally effusive in his praise of Tencza.
“It was great save,” Cope said. “The keeper, he didn’t go for it all at the near post and miss it. He slid across, and came up with a huge save. That was quality. He made a couple of other good saves, too. I told him in the handshake that he was the best player on the field.”
After a scoreless first half, during which both teams traded scoring chances, Rifle got on the board on an indirect kick from Adam Krick.
“Adam’s been clutch for us all year,” Taucher said. “He scored the overtime winner up in Craig. Then, he scored the tying goals with less than five minutes left against Steamboat. We send him forward when he can. He’s very composed. He finishes them.”
After Tencza’s big save, Rifle’s Bobby Layman finished the Huskies with a 35-yard laser from the left side.
“We knew coming off Steamboat that there was a chance our guys would be a little flat. You play an emotional game Thursday, and we knew it would be their Homecoming game, and Battle Mountain’s a good team. They played a great first half. We’re lucky we kept them off the board.”
Good point, Coach. Rifle is the only team to blank the Huskies this season, doing it twice.
“We should be proud of the season we’re putting together,” Cope said. “The league tables don’t lie. You start counting aggregate goals against teams like this and, over two games, we didn’t score a goal against Rifle. That’s real telling. They were better. Having said that, we did create chances to win the game or even equalize it late, and we didn’t. That’s life.
Now, the attention turns to the last week of the regular season and the playoff race. Rifle already has clinched a spot, leads Steamboat by one game for the league title and has a seemingly favorable schedule – home vs. Moffat Tuesday at 6 p.m., followed by a road game at Delta. If the Bears win their next two, they clinch the league crown.
“We’re not even looking at the league title,” Taucher said. “We’re not even looking at playoffs. We know it’s out there. Our focus is just to get better each game.”
For Battle Mountain, the Huskies need four points in their final three games – at Palisade Tuesday, Steamboat at home Thursday and at Glenwood Saturday.
“You’d like to go to Glenwood without having to do anything. You’d like to go to Glenwood having qualified,” Cope said. “Steamboat has two losses and we have three. If we beat Palisade, you set up a game at home where you could still sneak into the second spot. That’s got to be our objective.”
Chris Freud is the sports editor for the Vail Daily. Contact him at (970) 949-0555, ext. 614 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.