To be continued: Huskies, Devils draw
GYPSUM, Colorado – Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley soccer meet again on Oct. 22 in Edwards, if anyone’s wondering.
After 80 minutes of back-and-fourth soccer, lightning strikes causing a weather delay, 10 more minutes of overtime and an apparent golden goal by Eagle Valley, the Huskies and Devils ended up with a 1-1 tie under the lights Tuesday night at Hot Stuff Stadium in Gypsum.
Who said ties in soccer are boring?
On or off?
Eagle Valley seemed to have ended its 10-year wi9nless drought against Battle Mountain with a golden goal in the last 90 seconds of overtime.
Battle Mountain got a free kick in the Devils’ end. With Battle Mountain’s Leopoldo Rodriguez lining up his shot, the Huskies swarmed the Eagle Valley end. The only problem was that Rodriguez’s kick went straight into Eagle Valley’s wall and the Devils were on the counter-attack.
Eagle Valley’s David Shea had breakaway down the right side and lofted his shot over Battle Mountain goalie Clint Hervert. The Devils’ bench exploded. The Huskies fell to the ground in disappointment.
And then the whistle blew – offsides, no goal, and let the debate begin.
“I thought it was in,” Eagle Valley’s Marco Escobar said. “I heard a whistle and I went over to the linesmen and was like, ‘No, you’ve got to be kidding me.’ It’s OK. Maybe he was off. Maybe he wasn’t.”
“Offsides, for sure,” Hervert said with a smile. “I committed to going out and then I saw the ball in the back of the net. The first thing I checked for was the linesman. I thought it was offsides from the beginning. My heart was stopped for a little bit.”
Perhaps, the coaches can add a little light.
“Dodged a bullet,” Battle Mountain’s David Cope said. “We committed too many players forward on the free kick in the overtime, and we were very lucky. I guess that’s why they were offside because we had so many players forward. We didn’t have any defenders back. It had to be offsides.”
Jason Rittmiller went the extra mile to be diplomatic.
“I know that (the referee) wouldn’t have made that call unless he was dead positive that he was offsides. I got that assurance, but it sure tastes bad. I don’t like ties. We did the work to get a win. It was a legitimate technicality, but it was a technicality. We made a scoring run and a great shot. So it’s tough to feel bad about it. We played a great game and we’ll see them again.”
And that would Oct. 22.
Both teams walked away from Hot Stuff, knowing they had chances to end the game in regulation. The Devils got the early lead thanks to Nester to Marco Escobar.
“It was from the left. It was Nester. He’s a lefty,” Marco said. “We always do that play. We’ve been practicing that play forever. It just happened to work. I shot at the (far) post and it went in.”
Adding urgency to the first half was the lightning that seemingly encircled Hot Stuff. A CHSAA soccer game becomes official after the kickoff of the second half, and with dark clouds all around, Escobar’s goal looked like it might stand. (The last time the two teams had such weather problems was Sept. 6, 2001, in Eagle-Vail, when the Huskies defeated the Devils, 3-0, in a 53-minute game. For the trivially-inclined Scotty Ligouri scored two for the Huskies, while Peter Brown had the other.)
But Battle Mountain got on the board thanks to an unlikely source – junior Yini Ruiz. Huskies midfielder David Gonzalez threaded a beautiful pass to Ruiz, and the junior’s shot just eluded the grasp of Devils goalie Mario Gonzalez, leaving the teams tied at one at the intermission.
When the second half began, the game was official and the refs called a halt to the action in the 47th minute as the lightning got closer. By CHSAA rule, the teams waited 30 minutes before resuming play.
After spending some time in Eagle Valley’s new cafeteria waiting out the storm, Battle Mountain came out with sustained pressure in the Devils’ end. The Huskies had corner kick after corner kick, and could not finish.
The Devils gamely weathered the pressure and later had two glorious opportunities from David Shea, only to be denied by Hervert or the goal posts.
“There’s about six kids walking off this field, saying to themselves, ‘I hit the post. I had the game-winner,'” Cope joked afterward.
The draw leaves Eagle Valley at 3-0-1 and Battle Mountain at 2-0-1. Both squads are at four points in league play at 1-0-1. Eagle Valley hosts Moffat County Saturday at 11 a.m., but Battle Mountain gets the Bulldogs first.
The Huskies are in Craig Friday and then are at Steamboat Springs Saturday for a relatively-huge game.
For those watching the standings, Steamboat’s atop the 4A Slope at 2-0-1, followed by the Huskies, Devils and Glenwood Springs all at 1-0-1. Steamboat and Glenwood played to scoreless draw last week, and combined with Tuesday’s tie between the local sides, it looks like the league will come down to the wire again.
By the way, the final games of the regular season are on Oct. 22.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.