The Classical Academy ends Battle Mountain’s fairytale season
COMMERCE CITY — Battle Mountain soccer ran into the immovable object … again.
The thrill ride that was Huskies soccer 2016 ended with a 7-1 loss to The Classical Academy on Saturday afternoon at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City.
The Titans, who were playing in their fourth final in as many years either at Class 3A or 4A, are the state champions. That the better team won takes nothing away from Battle Mountain’s season.
“I love my boys,” Huskies co-captain Miles Joersz said. “They’re my family.”
Joersz was one of many Battle Mountain players in tears, and that’s just fine. This, too, will pass.
Battle Mountain boys soccer has a storied history — the state title of 2012, 10 4A Slope titles in the last 13 years and 19 consecutive playoff appearances, dating back to 1998. This year’s Huskies (17-3) did and followed in that tradition proudly.
“It’s phenomenal,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “There was a point in the season where we were scraping to get into the playoffs. We were in the 30s in the (rating-percentage index) and at the bottom of our league, to be honest. I’m just so proud of the group and the effort they put in.”
The mighty, mighty Titans
As was the case in September, the score reflected TCA’s dominance. That it was the same margin — six goals — perhaps, did not reflect the gap between the two squads.
This was a close game for the first half. Under the category of “You don’t see that everyday,” TCA’s Jonny Stephens blasted a shot from outside the box off the crossbar, and, somehow, the ball had the right spin to go into the Huskies’ net.
As always, this is good time to remember that teams, not goalies, allow goals. Alan Villegas got understandably handcuffed on that shot. He also saved the Huskies’ bacon several times.
What would be the icing goal came in the 37th minute on a breakaway by TCA’s Jaden Borja. Villegas came out to defend, and Borja deftly chipped the ball right over him for a 2-0 halftime lead.
“We thought we could limit them defensively with numbers,” Cope said. “We did for a while. It’s a shame we gave up that second goal. Xs and Os go out the window when you play a better team.”
TCA blew it open in the final 40 minutes — Jake Slater, Titus Grant, Nathan Fronterhouse, Jeremy Baldes and Stephens again all scored. Battle Mountain’s Cody Bahan did put the Huskies on the board late.
Final curtain call
After the final horn, the Huskies walked arm-in-arm toward the sideline to thank their boisterous and appreciative fans.
“We always play together. We’ve been playing together since we were 11. I’m just proud to be part of this family,” said Huskies co-captain Brandon Rodriguez, pointing to crest on his shirt.
The takeaway from 2016 is that the Huskies won 13 games in a row between losses to TCA.
“It was awesome starting out the season with two losses and coming back and not losing a game until the state finals,” Bahan said.
That rampage included a run to the Slope title with a season sweep of Steamboat Springs and a revenge win against Eagle Valley. And when the playoffs started, the Huskies found another gear. After smashing Fort Morgan, Battle Mountain defeated Silver Creek in Longmont for the program’s first postseason road win in four years.
Back in Edwards during the quarterfinals, the Huskies improbably surged from a 2-0 hole for a 3-2 win over D’Evelyn.
In the Final Four earlier this week, Battle Mountain dominated Pueblo West, 2-0, to reach only the second final in the program’s history.
“This is a group with an enormous amount of pride, and enormous amount of love for each other,” Cope said. “We were just so proud to see them fight to the end and get to play to the end. At the beginning of every season, it’s your goal to get to this field.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, firstname.lastname@example.org and @cfreud.