Weaver, Battle Mountain Huskies squeak by Palisade Bulldogs in overtime
EDWARDS — One can call Battle Mountain soccer a lot of things, but dull it is not.
Senior Avery Weaver scored with 33 seconds left in double overtime to lift the Huskies to a heart-stopping 3-2 win over Palisade on Thursday, May 3, in Edwards.
Yes, they squandered a 2-1 lead with three minutes left in regulation. Yes, they had some primo chances in the 19 minutes preceding Weaver’s goal, and, despite all that, Battle Mountain found a way on Wednesday.
And it was a fitting way to clinch a Western Slope title. This season had setbacks (losses to Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs), comebacks (Summit County and Glenwood), bad weather (at Steamboat and Thursday) and stunning finishes (Eagle Valley and Thursday), so why not smash it all into 99 minutes of soccer?
It is somewhat surprising that famine and pestilence were not part of the experience.
“Each team does write its own story, and this team was 1-2 (in league) after three games, and finished 10-2,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “That shows a lot of fortitude and a lot of perseverance. We were really proud of them to stick with it. “
That is Battle Mountain’s first league title since 2015 — sixth in the program’s history — and ices the Huskies’ first playoff berth since 2016.
These may not seem like long droughts, but the bar is higher for soccer at this school.
The Huskies will don league-title sweatshirts.
“I’m really glad I get one more before I leave,” said Weaver, who was a freshman on the squad in 2015.
The Huskies seemed like they wouldn’t get title No. 6. Palisade’s Dominique Dexter scored with 2:44 left in regulation to tie the game at two. With word circulating that Glenwood Springs had beaten Steamboat, 4-1, the Huskies could not settle for the tie.
The Huskies threw everything forward in the extra time, playing with just three defenders.
Claire Krueger appeared to have a golden chance with a header off a corner kick from Rayna Kenney.
It went just high.
Also in the first overtime, Audrey Teague had a shot in the box with Palisade’s goalie out of position. The Bulldogs’ Fiona Richards cleared the ball off the line.
In the second overtime, Teague had a breakaway. As she leads the team with 15 goals and scored No. 15 in similar fashion in the second minute of this game, she was exactly the person the Huskies wanted in the position. Teague’s first shot was stopped and the rebound attempt went over the bar.
“I think the biggest thing that we were in our head,” Teague said. “We kept on looking at the clock. Instead of playing the game, we were playing the clock. I think that put us on our heels instead of our toes. We were outplaying them.”
But the scoreboard was the only thing that counted.
“We knew there was so much on our plate,” Krueger said. “We just had to get it done.”
The Huskies continued the pressure, but the clock was dwindling. Battle Mountain got a corner kick during the final minute, and a mad scramble ensued. Kenney got the ball to Weaver, who slotted it home and the Huskies went bananas during a delirious celebration.
“It’s amazing. It’s the first (golden) one I’ve ever had,” Weaver said. “It’s special against Palisade because I’ve played with a few of those girls since I was young. It’s cool to win the league on that goal.”
“That was nuts and very fitting for Avery to get the goal,” Cope said. “In the second half, Avery was a little sick. When we were up 2-1, I said, ‘You’re not going to go back in unless they score.’ They did score, and she went back in and scored.”
What say you, RPI?
The Huskies and Glenwood finished league play at 10-2. Having split their two meetings this spring, the next tiebreaker was both teams’ record against the third-place team in the Slope, Palisade. The Demons split with the Bulldogs, while the Huskies went 2-0 vs. Palisade.
Battle Mountain (10-3-1) entered Thursday’s game sitting at No. 15 in the rating-percentage index. The Huskies hope that will rise with Thursday’s win and with the regular-season finale against the Vail Mountain School on Saturday, May 5 at 7 p.m.
Battle Mountain needs to finish in the top 16 to host a first-round playoff game on Wednesday, April 9, which would be a part of a postseason doubleheader along with boys lacrosse.
“We just hope a win like that seals a home game for us,” Cope said. “We deserve to be on home on Wednesday.”