Saints soccer, VMS lax see seasons end (or begin)
Battle Mountain soccer vs. Denver South, 4 p.m.
Battle Mountain boys lacrosse at Cheyenne Mountain, 4 p.m.
Battle Mountain girls lacrosse at Dakota Ridge at Trailblazer Stadium, 5 p.m.
It generally doesn’t end well.
It’s the harsh reality of making the playoffs. At most — say, in football — seven teams end up happy — the 6-man, 8-man and 1A-5A champs. Everyone else leaves the field, the court or the ice unhappy.
Vail Christian soccer lost at Telluride, 3-0, in the first round of the 2A soccer playoffs on Tuesday, while Vail Mountain School lacrosse dropped a 13-8 decision at Conifer in the 4A tournament.
These two teams lost on Tuesday, but they are in no way losers. Both squads made their first playoff appearances, which is a major step in the process. And while process isn’t as glamorous as hoisting a state trophy in Denver, it’s an essential part of understanding sports.
The spring sports season, for example didn’t start on a Monday in February. Vail Christian soccer’s season started a long time ago when that school’s students decided they wanted a team. Same thing for the Vail Mountain School boys.
While we tend to find a season as finite, it’s part of a continuum of seasons, and that’s where we can find comfort when the road ends.
The best program I’ve covered in the 18 years is Battle Mountain boys soccer. No other team at any local school has had the sustained success — 18 straight playoff appearances bridging the time that the school moved from 3A to 4A — or more league titles (nine).
It’s gotten to the point that when Battle Mountain boys soccer loses a game or two, everyone asks me, “What’s wrong with the Huskies?” (And, yes, the same thing has come up with regard to the school’s girls soccer team this season. Go beat Denver South today.)
The bar has been set high for the sport at the school, particularly with the boys going 20-0 and winning the whole thing in 2012.
Battle Mountain boys soccer went to the playoffs for the first time under coach David Cope in 1998 and got smoked by Salida, 5-0. The next year, the Huskies went to Kent Denver and got drummed, 6-0.
People tend to forget these moments, but they are an indelible part of the programs history, just as important as when the Huskies finally beat Evergreen in the 2012 quarterfinals on penalty kicks, aka The Christian Espinoza Game.
It turns out there were a lot of titled games as Huskies soccer developed.
• The Alberto Saenz Game — Battle Mountain beats Vail Mountain in overtime on a golden goal by the aforementioned to send the Huskies to the playoffs in 1998.
• The 9-on-11 Game — The Huskies beat Glenwood, 4-3, at awful Stubler Stadium in 1999 to defeat the Demons for the first time under Cope.
• Battle Mountain Beats Steamboat, 2-2 — That was the headline Cope wanted me to run after the Huskies tied the Sailors in 2002. That was a dizzying result as Steamboat Springs usually had Battle Mountain as a light appetizer in years previous. This is also The Sean Reynolds Game.
• Cheyenne Mountain, No. 1 — Edgar Hernandez scores the second of consecutive hat tricks to down the Indians in the second round of the playoffs, and Battle Mountain makes the Elite Eight for the first time in 2005.
• Cheyenne Mountain, No. 2 — Heivan Garcia scores twice in a 4-2 win against Cheyenne Mountain in 2011. That turned out to be one of those moments upon which we looked back and started to see that something really special was happening.
Garcia ended up with his name on a state-title trophy the next year. Saenz, Hernandez nor Reynolds didn’t. But there is no state title in 2012 without them or countless players like Eric Eves, Scott Ligouri, Evie Gonzalaez, Tyler Cole, Kyle Moore, Josh Ruark and Bryan Aubel, just to name a few significant players who helped build Battle Mountain’s program.
The foundation is set
Vail Christian soccer coach Barbara Wilson was slightly invested in the 2012 state champions. Her oldest son Gunnar was on that team.
Wilson (nee Klava) was part of the 1987 Arvada West state-title team. She texted me after the 2012 Huskies won, “It takes a village to win a state championship.”
After Saints soccer lost and after Vail Mountain School lacrosse went down, doubtless, tears were shed, hugs exchanged and promises made.
But these two teams are part of the village, the first to make the postseason. These two teams have opened the door for future teams to walk through.
And, yes, there was The Morgan Calton Game. “You remember the time Morgan scored on a pass from Remy Beveridge to beat Roaring Fork in OT,” will be a comment at a school reunion at some point.
“And we made the playoffs that year and the next year we won our first playoff game.”
Meanwhile, at Vail Mountain School, the conversation will be something like, “The first time we beat Battle Mountain, it was a whiteout. Tyler Hancock won every faceoff. (This will not be an exaggeration.) We lost to Conifer, but beat them the next season in the playoffs.”
These games weren’t an ending, but a beginning.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.