Sanders sends Huskies to Round 2 |

Sanders sends Huskies to Round 2

Bret Hartman/Vail DailyBattle Mountain's Kelsey Sanders runs down the field on a breakaway Tuesday on her way to scoring against Thomas Jefferson in the first half at Freedom Field in Edwards. Battle Mountain won, 3-2.

EDWARDS – Battle Mountain girls soccer’s Kelsey Sanders could likely run for public office anywhere in the east end of Eagle County and win by a landslide, especially after Tuesday’s first-round state-playoff game against Thomas Jefferson. Sanders scored the second of her two goals in the 79th minute at Freedom Park to clinch a 3-2 win over the visiting Spartans after the Huskies had squandered a seemingly secure a 2-0 first-half lead.”Oh my god, I was so proud of Kelsey,” Battle Mountain’s Liz Gladitsch said. “I love her.”That sentiment pretty much applied to all the Huskies Tuesday. When the final whistle blew, she was mobbed by her teammates. The goal and the win sends the Huskies (14-3) down to Golden, a 2-0 winner over Canon City, for Round 2 likely on Friday at the Northern Area Athletic Complex.

Goose bumpsLeading 2-1 with 12 minutes to go, Gladitsch got whistled for a hand ball outside of the right corner of the Huskies’ box. Battle Mountain coach David Cope, normally a subdued character on the sideline, made it clear that he was not pleased with the call.Gladitsch was equally bewildered.”When they made that call, I was actually really confused,” she said. “I really didn’t think my hands were anywhere near the ball.”Thomas Jefferson’s Jenny Maston blasted her kick into the Huskies’ box, where it rattled around until it found the foot of Christen Turk, who tied the game. The Huskies had dominated most of the flow, and they were now facing overtime.”We were most proud of the fact that when the second goal went in, no heads went down,” Cope said. “Everybody went about their business and got the ball and started again. I think that’s a real sign of character. This group has a lot of character.”

It showed. Battle Mountain continued its assault on Spartans goalie Isabel Ramney and it bore fruit. Allison O’Neill found a streaking Sanders on the right side and the sophomore put it in for the game winner.”I got goose bumps through my entire body,” Sanders said. “It was amazing. I saw it coming down. It was coming toward me. I said, ‘I can’t miss this. The pressure’s on you. You have all these defenders around you. I got this. I got this.’ And it went in.”Never give up. You’ve got to keep going no matter what the score is. Just play as hard as you can to get the final score and get the W.”While Cope was relieved that matters ended in regulation, he was confident about his team’s prospects in extra time.”In close games, our girls have the ability to control the ball,” he said. “It looks at times like we’re playing downhill because we’re able to control the ball. I think they’re pretty confident. I thought we did a nice job with the ball. To be honest, we were slipping toward overtime, but in a 30-minute overtime, we would have liked our chances.”

A quick startEarly on, overtime was the last thing on anybody’s mind. The Huskies came out fast, taking a 2-0 lead in the first 15 minutes.Sanders took a feed from Emily LyBarger seven minutes in and put it in the right corner for a 1-0 lead. Alison O’Neill had several scoring opportunities of her own only to over the bar or to be called offsides.While doubtless frustrated by her lack of scoring, O’Neill made her presence felt with a pair of assists.”She was having a tough time finishing,” Cope said. “That’s one thing about her. She has to recognize, ‘OK, it’s not happening for me to finish, but I can create assists. I can create goals.’ With her athleticism, she can be a menace to other teams.”

O’Neill found Kate Van Hee for another gorgeous goal eight minutes later.”Kate’s second goal was a great goal,” Cope said. “She hadn’t scored in a long time. She only tends to score classic ones.””I saw the girl right here,” Van Hee said. “I knew I had only one chance and that’s about it. It was a perfect ball from Allison. She saw it the whole way.”Perhaps though, the Huskies got off to too quick of a start. Battle Mountain continued to have opportunities, but did not cash in. Maston struck midway through the first 40 to halve the lead.In retrospect, it’s probably a good thing the Huskies had a close game to start the playoffs.

“It definitely helps our character,” Van Hee said. “It helps our team, especially our strength against other teams. We know we have the ability to come back. It’s definitely more rewarding than winning, 5-0.”Just for kicksGionbottiglio went to Van Hee. The Bag went to Gladitsch. … Battle Mountain had its biggest crowd of the season. Vail Mountain soccer was out in force as was the Huskies boys team in addition to copious amounts of parents and other students. “It’s amazing,” Sanders said. “It pumps us up. We get really excited to see the community support us.” … Patrick Scanlan finally got a haircut. He wanted that information in the paper. … Bravo to the grill boys who stepped up Tuesday. … In other Slope action, Steamboat downed Widefield, 5-2. Greeley West routed Glenwood, 5-1. Cheyenne Mountain blanked Rifle, 6-0.Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 614, or, Colorado

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