Vail Valley preps: Huskies advance to Round 2
That’s what Battle Mountain soccer coach David Cope called his team’s 3-0 playoff win over Green Mountain Thursday in Edwards.Yes, it very much was. The Huskies got goals from three different players in textbook fashion, using the width of their pitch. The defense was solid and the visiting Rams didn’t have serious chances, as goalie Nick Vossler and company got Battle Mountain’s first playoff shutout since 2004.A very tidy win with a bow on top.But as Cope would acknowledge, Thursday’s win, which sends the Huskies to a round of 16 date Saturday at Evergreen, was more than tidy. It was an exorcism of sorts for Battle Mountain (13-3) after first-round exits the last two years.”This is awesome. This is my first playoff win in any sport,” said Huskies center back Clint Hervert, who also plays football in the fall and basketball in the winter. “This is a new feeling for me. It’s the best feeling I’ve ever felt.”Battle Mountain soccer lost in 2008 to Longmont in overtime and got scorched by Evergreen, 7-2, last year in Edwards, ending brief playoff stays. Thursday, the Huskies walked off the pitch with their traditional salute to their fans as victors, knowing that there is more soccer to be played.”For a lot of these guys, they didn’t want to leave high school without having won a playoff game,” Cope said. “So that was really important. The seniors really stepped up and played.”Prescient commentsDuring Wednesday’s practice, Cope, among the traditional pre-playoff profundities, said that Battle Mountain sophomore Heivan Garcia was hot and that his outside midfielders, Bryan Morales on the right and Sergio Sifuentes on the left, would be key.The coach was 2-for-2 there.Garcia is officially scalding now. He scored the golden goal in a 3-2 win at Steamboat Springs, which clinched the league title for the Huskies. Two days later, he had the lone marker in a 1-0 victory at Basalt. The sophomore had a helper in the regular-season finale at Eagle Valley and got the first goal of Thursday’s game in the 32nd minute.”The confidence has come back to me. It’s just taking shots and scoring. … It all depends on my teammates helping me achieve all the goals I’ve been making. Bryan did an amazing job playing it to the right, and he just cut it back. We’ve been practicing like that for the last three weeks and it all paid off. Bryan had the pass and I just shot it in.”Aside from the obvious – scoring the first goal is always important – the tally seemed to increase the Huskies’ comfort level against the Rams. There was some give-and-take between the two teams in the first 20 minutes, but after the goal, the Huskies played mostly in Green Mountain’s end.Garcia’s goal was also the start of a nice trend for Battle Mountain. Morales and Sifuentes went to work all day on the Rams, crushing balls into the box.”We believe in playing wide and that’s where three goals came from.” Cope said.With Morales feeding Garcia for No. 1, it was officially Sifuentes to Efren Gonzalez for the second. Technically, though, that sequence began with Morales who struck a beautiful corner kick into the box. Nobody touched it, so Sifuentes, on the other side, sent it back in and Gonzalez did the honors.Sean Armitage was the surprise goal-scorer late as Cope called off his starters one-by-one. Armitage scored from Sifuentes, and the former was serenaded by a humorous “Justin Bieber” chant from the crowd.Meanwhile, the defense recorded its first postseason goose egg since the Huskies downed Ranum, 4-0, in 2004.”They played similar to Moffat,” Hervert said. “Their goalie could kick. They played that long ball. The main thing was making sure nothing got behind us and to win everything out of the air. They didn’t have one kind of killer like some other teams do, so that made it easier for us to defend like we normally do. We did a good job of not diving in, and closing down.”Hello againThe Huskies don’t have much turnaround time for Round 2. The Huskies will be at Evergreen Saturday. No game time has been announced.Battle Mountain is familiar with the Cougars. They came up to Edwards last year and ended the Huskies season by a count of 7-2.”Today’s a little redemption for the playoffs,” Cope said. “One of (our) losses this year was Glenwood. We said, ‘Not often in life do you get a chance at redemption.’ We seized that opportunity (by beating Glenwood in the rematch). Now we get to redeem ourselves for last year’s playoffs and that’s huge.”Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.