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Slope girls soccer realignment likely

EAGLE-VAIL, Colorado ” When Battle Mountain girls soccer takes the field in 2009, the Huskies will likely be seeing some new faces.

According to Huskies soccer coach David Cope, the eight 4A Western Slope teams have reached an agreement for realignment for the 2008-09 season.

The Slope will be divided into two four-team divisions with Battle Mountain, Steamboat Springs, Eagle Valley and Moffat County in one as-of-yet-unnamed group and Glenwood Springs, Rifle, Palisade and Delta in the other. Teams will play everyone in their own division twice and squads from the other side of the league once for a total of 10 games.

Previously, the eight sides played each other twice for a total of 14 of 15 regular-season games within the league, leaving just one opportunity for nonconference play before the state playoffs.

Battle Mountain and Steamboat, particularly, wanted a new alignment to allow them to play more Front Range teams to prepare for the postseason. The new set-up will allow every team in the Slope five nonconference games, and that means Cope and Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann will start to work the phones finding opponents for these new open dates.

Heading to the Front Range

The Huskies will likely keep their annual date with Summit County, leaving four open matches for Front Range teams. If Cope has his way, there will be nothing resembling a cupcake on the Huskies schedule.

“I think we’ll pick up quality games,” Cope said. “We’re looking at the top tier of the Jeffco League. We play Cheyenne Mountain on the boys’ side, so that would be logical in the spring.”

In a perfect world, Cope wouldn’t mind a nonleague slate of Liberty, Cheyenne, Niwot and Golden.

“Going 15-0 again is going to be very difficult,” Cope said.

The specific opponents Battle Mountain schedules will depend on what free dates other teams have. The good news for the Huskies is that the 2008-09 school year marks the beginning of another two-year CHSAA cycle, meaning that this summer is when schools normally set up their schedules for the next two years.

Cope and Bohlmann are working together to set up a “mountain swing” arrangement with top Front Range teams, where the Huskies and Sailors would go down one year and play a combination of teams like Liberty and Cheyenne Mountain in Colorado Springs. The next year the Lancers and the Indians would swing through Edwards and Steamboat Springs for matches on back-to-back days.

“It would be a good team-building thing for them,” Cope said. “(Steamboat and Battle Mountain) both have turf fields, so we can almost guarantee them a game.”

Game on

As for league play, the new divisional alignment would certainly add some spice to the Huskies-Sailors rivalry. With no crossover game at the end of the season planned ” the two division winners would not play each other in a postseason championship game for the league title ” the league champion would be the team from either group with the most points in Slope play.

If history is any indication, Battle Mountain and Steamboat would play twice likely with the new division title and league title at stake, depending on how Glenwood Springs fares in its group. The winner of the Huskies-Sailors season series would likely be the division and league champ, while the loser could fall to third place in the conference behind the other division winner.

“If you’re not first, you’re third,” Cope joked. “It’s like Ricky Bobby. CHSAA’s going to seed us (for the playoffs) where ever they want anyway.”

Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or cfreud@vaildaily.com.

A new league

Under the tentatively-proposed format, the 4A Western Slope would be divided into two divisions for the 2009 season. Here’s how this year’s league standings would have looked under the new alignment:

Northern Division Pts

Battle Mountain 14-0 42xyz

Steamboat Springs 10-3-1 31x

Eagle Valley 2-12 6

Moffat County 1-13 3

Southern Division

Glenwood Springs 9-4-2 29xy

Delta 6-6-2 20x

Rifle 6-7-1 19

Palisade 3-10-1 10

x-would have clinched a playoff spot

y-would have won division

z-would have won league title


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