Demons fall just short in upset bid of Huskies
A missed penalty kick late in the second half proved to be the deciding factor in Thursday’s thrilling 4A Western Slope League matchup at Stubler Memorial Field between the Glenwood Springs Demons boys soccer team and the visiting Battle Mountain Huskies, in which the Huskies hung on for a 3-2 win.
Glenwood senior Alonso Pacheco drew the Battle Mountain penalty in the box after a great run down the right wing by senior Clayton Horning and Leo Mireles. With momentum clearly on their side in the second half and the Huskies playing back on their heels, it looked like Pacheco would play the hero, taking the PK. But in a flash the senior’s shot was high over the crossbar as the Huskies’ bench breathed a sigh of relief in an otherwise difficult matchup for the defending 4A runner-up.
Following the miss by Pacheco, Glenwood refused to let up, pushing for the third goal to tie the game, but ultimately the talented Glenwood group couldn’t crack the Battle Mountain code one final time, falling 3-2 in a well-played soccer game in front of a lively crowd.
“I told them after the game how proud of them I was,” Glenwood head coach Wayne Smith said. “I told them that they had nothing to be ashamed of. They played a fantastic second half. … I told them I couldn’t have asked anything more from them tonight. It would have been nice to convert the penalty as the game would have come out differently, but we flat outplayed them tonight.”
In the second-half comeback attempt, Glenwood was forced to play a man down after senior defenseman Axel Garces picked up his second yellow card of the game in a physical affair throughout, but the man disadvantage seemed to inspire the Demons, who switched to a 4-4-2 format to take pressure off of their back line. By doing that, Glenwood actually controlled possession for most of the second half, but couldn’t buy that second goal of the second half to tie the game at 3-all.
Early in the first half it appeared as though the Huskies were locked in, racing out to a quick 1-0 lead as junior midfielder Jackson Kelley beat a Glenwood defender to a loose ball down the right wing, pushing the ball ahead to senior Blake Moller, who was able to beat Glenwood goalkeeper Carlos Guardado to a ball in the box, slipping the shot past the sliding Guardado to give the Huskies a 1-0 lead just 54 seconds into the game.
Unphased by the quick goal, Glenwood responded less than three minutes later as Horning took off down the right wing after a great throw in from Mireles. With one man to beat down the wing, Horning pulled up short and lofted a terrific cross into the box near the far post to a waiting Pacheco, who leapt high into the air to head the ball home, knotting the game at 1-all, igniting the home crowd.
But just over two minutes later the Huskies struck back as senior Jorge Membreno took a throw-in along the left sideline, beating his defender before curling back in towards the middle of the field. Once he was past his defender, the senior fired a tough-angled shot at the Glenwood net, beating the diving Guardado high into the far right corner to give the Huskies a 2-1 lead.
Trailing by one, the Demons picked up the pace while adding some physicality, which led to two first-half yellow cards.
Late in the first half, Battle Mountain nearly made it 3-1 as Membreno hit the crossbar on a free kick from 30 yards out. The ball ricocheted off the crossbar and hit the turf before bouncing off the football upright, blowing the play dead.
Not to be disheartened by the near-miss, Battle Mountain stretched the lead to 3-1 with just 5:31 left in the first half as Moller again beat the diving Guardado in the box, giving the Huskies a much-needed two-goal advantage at the half.
But in the second half it was all Glenwood, even after losing Garces for the game to go down a man early in the second half. Playing with 10 men, Glenwood mounted more offensive pressure than they did with a full lineup on the field as Horning started to take over the game up front, putting together some impressive runs down the right wing to put serious pressure on the Battle Mountain back line.
At the 29:18 mark of the second half, one of Horning’s runs paid off as the senior beat two defenders wide before working back towards the middle of the box, slipping a shot past the diving Husky keeper to the far left post, pulling Glenwood to within 3-2.
Horning also played a key role in setting up the penalty from Pacheco, but it wouldn’t be enough for Glenwood in the 3-2 loss, which saw a total of seven yellow cards handed out between the two teams.
With the loss, Glenwood falls to 4-4 on the season. The Demons will host the Steamboat Springs Sailors Sept. 26 in another big 4A WSL showdown at Stubler Memorial Field, starting at 6 p.m.