Singing all the way to state quarters | VailDaily.com
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Singing all the way to state quarters

Ian Cropp
Nick Franco/Special to the DailyWilder Heuga, second from right, hugs teammate Erik Garcia during the Huskies' 5-3 second-round playoff win Saturday in Lakewood. The Huskies won their first road playoff match in school history.
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LAKEWOOD – The party started after the 80th minute, and was still in full force an hour later.Battle Mountain soccer may have been at the Macaroni Grill in the Denver West Mall, but it sounded like the Huskies were on the streets of Italy after the Azzurri had won the World Cup.And after beating No. 8 Conifer, 5-3, Saturday night in Lakewood in the second round of the 4A state playoffs, the No. 9 Huskies had plenty of reasons to celebrate.”They were thinking they had arrived at the World Cup,” said Battle Mountain coach David Cope of his team as they chanted ‘Ole, ole, ole ole’ at the Macaroni Grill. “(The World Cup) is not a place – it’s a state of mind.”The Huskies won their first playoff game in school history on the road thanks to goals from nearly half the guys on the field.”How typical of this team,” Cope said. “It was a trademark game. Five goals from five different scorers. That’s pretty amazing.”After taking a 2-0 lead into the half, the Huskies saw it disappear in the first seven minutes of the second frame.”We’re feeling pretty good at half. When you’ve given up a two-goal lead, it’s easy to collapse,” Cope said. “But the fellas kept playing.”Six minutes later, Battle Mountain had regained its two-goal cushion.”We were confident, and we knew it was going to be a battle like a lot of games this year,” said Chris Woodruff, the only starter in Saturday’s lineup from last year’s quarterfinal team. (The other returning starter from the 2005 team, Tony Seibert, is out with a knee injury).

Conifer cut the deficit to one again in the 63rd minute, but it would be the senior Woodruff’s first tally on the season to put the game out of reach in the 73rd minute. “(Before the goal), we were hanging on at 4-3, trying to hold the ball,” Cope said. “And then (Woodruff) scored his first goal of the year, which is pretty amazing.”The clincher came when Huskies’ co-captain Erik Garcia ended up with the ball at the top of the Lobos’ box courtesy of some good ball movement by Ricky Luevanos and Jose Pavon. Garcia moved across the box, and chopped the ball behind his back, which left a streaking Woodruff alone with the Conifer keeper. Woodruff flicked the ball into the net with the outside of his foot.”We were putting it away, and after (the fifth goal), we weren’t letting them get another one,” Woodruff said. “It’s so exciting. Nobody thought we could make it this far.”A handfulMuch like it did in the first round against No. 24 Mountain Range, Battle Mountain got on the board early.In the 10th minute, Wilder Heuga played a ball across to Rudy Solis, who beat a Conifer defender, went in alone on the keeper and buried the ball into the corner.About 20 minutes later, Pavon deked a Lobos’ defender on the right end line and cut the ball back to a sliding Garcia, who one-timed the ball for a tally.”(Eric) is the heart and soul of this team,” Cope said.Battle Mountain did a great job keeping Conifer off the board during the first 40 minutes.

“I told them (at half) that they had 40 minutes to do what no team before them had done,” Cope said.The Lobos weren’t about to let the Huskies waltz away with a victory, however, and took advantage of a few good bounces to pull even.”In the first 40 seconds (of the second half), one of our guys goes to clear the ball in our box, hits it hard, and it ricochets off one of their legs and goes in,” Cope said. “It wasn’t even a shot – it’s just something that happens.”Conifer netted its second on a ball played into the Battle Mountain box that resulted in a scramble.”One of their kids put it in. It was another scrappy goal,” Cope said. “You’ve gotta give them so much credit for keeping their composure.”The touchPavon entered Saturday’s contest with four goals in as many matches, and left with the symmetry intact.Solis set up Pavon, who broke free alone in the Conifer box and slid the ball past the goalie.One minute later, Alberto Hernandez headed in what would stand as the game-winner off a free kick.

On Conifer’s third score, a through ball sent a Lobos’ forward toward the Huskies’ box when Dylan Hall made a great slide tackle. Huskies’ keeper D.J. Van Curan had come out to challenge the forward, and the ball rolled into the net.”It was neither of their faults,” Cope said. “Dylan had to make the tackle and D.J. had to come out. They scored three scrappy goals and D.J. was unbelievable.”And Van Curan, along with the rest of the team, had to be to move on to the quarterfinals.”They were a good team – big and very aggressive,” Woodruff said. “We got them on their heels in the fist half, they responded well, and finally by end of second half, they realized it was over.”Between the swings of momentum, the high level of play and of course, the win, Cope said the match was second to none he’s ever seen in his 14 yeras of coaching at Battle Mountain.”I was going crazy. It was one of the most exciting games I’ve seen, and I went to the World Cup this summer,” Cope said.But that’s how it feels when a coach gets to see his nation – Huskies Nation – improve to 13-2-1 and take on No. 1 Broomfield Wednesday on the road for a chance at the semifinals.Sports Writer Ian Cropp can be reached at 748-2935 or icropp@vaildaily.com.Vail, Colorado


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