Windsor edges Battle Mountain in quarter finals
EDWARDS — Since Windsor and Battle Mountain girls soccer had combined for a whopping 176 goals going into Thursday’s 4A state quarterfinal tilt, the logical conclusion was a 1-0 game.
The No. 5-ranked Wizards are moving on to the school’s first appearance in the state semifinals on Saturday after Zipporah Koenig scored in the 25th minute in the game’s only tally against No. 4 Battle Mountain in Edwards.
“Offensive teams win games,” Wizards co-captain Bailey Zehr said. “Defensive teams win championships.”
And that’s coming from Windsor’s leading scorer with 29 goals this season.
“We knew we had a very tough opponent,” Wizards coach Mario Garcia said. “We knew it was going to be a battle, no pun intended. I told the girls from the get-go that this could be a low-scoring game and whichever team defends better is going to win the game. I think they all decided that we were going to defend with 11.”
While Windsor will face the winner of No. 1 Evergreen and No. 4 Lewis-Palmer in the semifinals at Parker’s Sports Authority Stadium, the Huskies finish the year at 15-3.
“All you want from your team is to be proud of them as they walk off the field,” Huskies coach David Cope said. “We were extremely proud of them today. I thought we showed spirit and fight right up to the end.”
In all honesty, most in the Windsor camp, including Koenig, didn’t expect her to score. That’s because the freshman has spent most of the season on the JV level.
“The reason why I put her in is that she’s been showing in practice that she’s hungry,” Garcia said. “She’s been working hard. Ultimately, we’re a team of 24 and I believe in every one of these girls.”
As it turned out, Koenig played a little give-and-go with Zehr in the decisive sequence. Battle Mountain goalie Nicole Lasater got a piece of Zehr’s cross, but was screened by Nile Koenig, Zipporah’s sister. Younger Koenig ended up with rebound and an open shot on the left side of the net.
“It shocked me,” Zipporah said. “I hadn’t played much, so I didn’t think I was going to do as well as I did.”
And that goal withstood a second-half barrage from Battle Mountain. The Huskies normally play some version of a 4-4-2 or 3-5-1. By the end of the game, Battle Mountain had six forwards on the field.
“I don’t think we left any cards unplayed,” Cope said.
With Zehr moved from forward to midfield, the Wizards fended off every charge.
“My respect goes to Battle Mountain,” Garcia said. “They were a very strong team and, unfortunately, there’s a winner and a loser, and I think we defended a little better.”
It was a devastating to end to a glorious season, nonetheless, for the Huskies. Battle Mountain swept the 4A Slope with a 12-0 record. More importantly, the ladies made the Elite Eight for the first time in school history.
It was tough game for Huskies senior Rachel Ledone, who ended up tearing her right ACL and meniscus in Saturday’s game against Steamboat Springs in the second round.
“It’s a bittersweet thing,” she said. “I’ve been playing with a lot of these girls my whole life. Just seeing them out there playing their hearts out was incredible. I was so proud of them.”
“We have so much more to be proud about than stuff to be upset about right now,” Huskies senior Tabor Whitney said. “Obviously, we wanted to make it all the way to that final game, but we didn’t. We made it the furthest any (Battle Mountain girls) team has made it. We stayed together and were a family.”
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.