Vail Valley preps: Thoughts on Devils-Huskies soccer
We’re officially under way with 209-10 preps because we had our first instant classic of the season Tuesday night in soccer.
Battle Mountain 1, Eagle Valley 1.
Thoughts from the game:
• Eagle Valley soccer is legit. For those of you downvalley who like your soccer in red and black and tend to think the sports editor leans toward all things Battle Mountain, you might want to read that again. The Devils have athleticism at all positions and play as a team. This is no longer kicking the ball to Cesar Castillo, which was effective, but quite frankly, not a team game.
The Devils are the defending champions of the Slope, will most definitely be in the hunt for one of the league’s three state-playoff spots and could well defend their title. Eagle Valley is looking more like an established program, as opposed to a team powered by a group of players whose graduation spells the end.
• OK, to the issue of the evening. Yep, offsides. It wasn’t a goal. It hurts, I know. For the brief instant the Devils thought it was good, they celebrated like they had just won the state title, and with good reason. Battle Mountain is the one item left on the to-do list as far as Eagle Valley soccer goes. I know what this is like for a program trying to get over that hump.
The past is prologue, kids. We did this with Battle Mountain and Steamboat Springs from around 2000-2003. The Huskies would target the Sailors at the beginning of every year, and most of the time, Steamboat would send Battle Mountain packing quite convincingly.
David Cope and company kept banging their heads on the Steamboat wall and the margin got closer, and it cracked just a bit on Oct. 10, 2002, with a 2-2 tie under the lights at ye olde Huskies Stadium. That is called the “Huskies beat Steamboat, 2-2” game in Battle Mountain circles. In 2003, Battle Mountain finally got it, beating Steamboat, 2-0.
This day is coming sooner than Battle Mountain would like.
• The Devils have a truly multi-faceted offense with the likes of Marco Escobar, Nate Barker and David Shea, just to name a few. And, man, David, you had it in the second half. You keep charging like that, and you will get some big ones by the time the season has ended.
• Good to see Marco Escobar being a force. One still does a double take with him because he was on Battle Mountain’s varsity as a sophomore wearing No. 5. In fact, he joked that Huskies midfielder David Gonzalez took his number after he transferred.
More importantly, Marco is growing up. Easy to anger and take out of his game (a la Andy Banner and Davey DeChant earlier in their careers at Battle Mountain), Escobar deserves the captain’s band now for the Devils.
• If there’s one thing upon which Eagle Valley must work, it is that the team still plays too vertically. Soccer is a game of good diagonals, especially against good defenses. There were a few times Tuesday night when the Devils worked the flanks (including the non-goal, which was still an excellent scoring chance), and if they do more of that, watch out.
• As for Battle Mountain, everybody involved with the soccer team must carry Clint Hervert’s books to class for the next few days and be very nice to him. The goalie saved the Huskies’ bacon Tuesday night. That is why you love to have a third-year starter in net.
• Battle Mountain’s defense came as advertised. Connor Tedstrom, Chad Wikinson and Cody Hervert are as good as they come and that is high praise. The Huskies have had defensive trios in their time – Evie Gonzalez, Connor Drumm and Harrison Brown in 2004 really come to mind. The current triad is in good company.
• Overlooked: David Gonzalez. The midfielder had the assist on Yini Ruiz’s goal. More on Ruiz later. Gonzalez, or Costa, is the bedrock of this team. Costa will be flashy at times, but his steadiness, especially when it gets tight, is what will male him one of the best in the league.
• Pretty much everyone was bummed that it was a tie, except for Ruiz. Battle Mountain always has its traditional scoring threats (and this year it’s Ubaldo Trujillo and Jack Sunderland), and then there are the snipers. They come from off the radar. Who knows where Ruiz’s season may go, but that was one happy kid making the most of his opportunity.
And this is a good example for anyone in any sport who is riding the pine. Don’t complain. Do something about it. Ruiz got his chance, and he’s got Cope’s attention now.
• The concern for Battle Mountain is not finding the game-winner. Just as Eagle Valley feels it should have won, the Huskies had so many chances, especially in a 20-minute stretch in the second half. If Battle Mountain is to fulfill its lofty expectations this year, it’s got to score that goal. The Huskies beat Eagle Valley twice last year, but were one goal short in losses to Steamboat, Glenwood and Longmont, the games which cost them a league title and led to their postseason elimination last year.
Battle Mountain has to find that elusive goal.
• Before we all start planning for the rematch Oct. 22, please remember that Steamboat and Glenwood plan to have a say in this race. As just mentioned, the Huskies have a score to settle with both the Sailors and Demons. What’s been interesting for Eagle Valley is that the Devils haven’t had issues with either Steamboat or Glenwood, having met with a lot of recent success against both teams.
Remember though, you are the defending champs, Eagle Valley, and with that comes added challenge. As the Huskies found out last year, people start to develop a little chip on their shoulders when you win. With local teams having won the Slope the last five years, Steamboat and Glenwood feel like they’ve been left out in the cold for ages now.
• And just one note to get your attention. While the Devils and Huskies played Tuesday, Steamboat barely got by Moffat, 2-1. As the Huskies are at Moffat Friday and the Devils host the Bulldogs Saturday, get your game on.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934 or email@example.com.