Vail Valley preps: Huskies sweep Moffat
CRAIG – Battle Mountain soccer ain’t worried after Thursday.
After the Huskies defeated Moffat County, 3-2, in Edwards, in September, Bulldogs coach Rusty Cox said his team would win the rematch up in Craig.
“We’ll beat them when we come home. I ain’t worried about it,” Cox said at the time. “At home, we’ll beat them.”
Grammar issue aside, that was some serious bulletin board material for the Huskies, and it helped motivate Battle Mountain to a 5-3 win Thursday at Moffat County.
“It was huge (motivation),” said Jack Sunderland, who had two goals, along with teammate Efren Gonzalez. “Their coach said he wasn’t worried. Maybe he should have been.”
The Huskies had to rally twice from one-goal deficits, and, once they had a seemingly comfortable 4-2 lead, needed to hang on for the finish. Alex Perez broke the seal for Moffat. The Huskies’ answer was Efren Gonzalez, whose free kick screamed over the Bulldogs wall.
It was Gonzalez again with the equalizer late in the half after Alan Flores had put the hosts up, 2-1.
“I was feeling pretty good,” Gonzalez said. “I guess coming off the bench was my motivation. We wanted to go ahead and show them what kind of team we had.”
“Anytime you give up and early goal, your group can pull together or pull apart,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “Our group pulled together.”
Gonzalez was in on the Huskies’ third goal, pulling a spin move along the end line and then feeding Sunderland for a 3-2 lead. Sunderland, who likes to send out his goals with dedications on them, struck again, this time from Leopoldo Rodriguez. This week’s dedication is a serious one – to the Barbour family, which is going through a difficult time.
All seemed nicely wrapped up, especially on the Tracey Mendoza front. The Moffat striker had 21 goals coming into Thursday’s game, and, naturally as Cope was commenting late in the game to his bench that the Huskies had done a good job on him, Mendoza scored to close the gap to 4-3.
It was Haiven Garcia to the rescue as he scored on a breakaway late in stoppage time, and the Huskies sealed the win.
“There is a beautiful rainbow here going from Craig to Steamboat” Cope said after the game. “Take what you will from that.”
Battle Mountain (8-2 overall and 7-1 in the Slope) wouldn’t mind that kind of omen. The Huskies are at Montrose on Tuesday for a nonleague tilt and then go to Steamboat on Thursday for Round 2 against the Sailors.
The Huskies sit at 21 points atop the league table and can wrap up a Slope title with a win or a tie at Steamboat. However, Battle Mountain has sour memories of a similar situation last season when the Huskies failed twice to close the deal.
“It’s never in our pocket,” Sunderland said. “We want to play to our capacity for pride and playoff seeding.”
Battle Mountain clinched its 13th straight postseason berth with Thursday’s win, but much more lies ahead.
“We plan on going harder than this game,” Gonzalez said. “We’re going to make sure we’re not too confident.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.