Demons, Huskies battle to 1-1 draw in heavyweight tilt
Coming into Thursday night’s 4A Western Slope League showdown at Stubler Memorial Field, the matchup between No. 1 Battle Mountain and No. 13 Glenwood Springs was hyped up to be one of the biggest games of the year on the Western Slope.
It didn’t disappoint.
The Huskies and Demons battled through 100 minutes of intense, physical soccer to a 1-1 draw in double overtime, keeping the two 4A WSL powers unbeaten on the season.
Early on, the two teams slowly settled into the match as the game was played in the midfield for the first 12 minutes, with possession going back and forth.
Glenwood broke through first, though, in the tightly contested matchup as seniors German Alvarado, Angel Bernal, Justin Garces and Jack Reinhold helped flip momentum towards the Demons as the four put together some nice runs midway through the first half, before Battle Mountain lost containment of Reinhold on a run down the right sideline, setting up a corner kick for Glenwood midway through the first half.
As good teams usually do, Glenwood took advantage.
Junior Carlos Rodriguez placed a perfect corner kick into the box where Alvarado was able to get to it, heading the ball into the back of the net at the 16:23 mark of the first half, igniting a packed home crowd as Glenwood jumped in front 1-0.
“It was huge,” Wayne Smith, Glenwood’s veteran head coach, said. “It’s great to convert the corner; we practice them all the time. They executed on it, and we took them by surprise. I thought it shocked them [Battle Mountain] a bit. I thought in the first half we were starting to get to them a bit.
“This is a team that just brings the attack to the opponent, so going up one nil was great; I think it set the tone for the game, letting Battle know it wasn’t going to be an easy one.”
Holding a 1-0 lead, Glenwood clamped down defensively on the Huskies’ high-powered attack as the back line of seniors Mitchell Burt, Alan Videla, Aidan Partch and Edwin Francia came up large time and time again in the first half, keeping Battle Mountain’s attack at bay, frustrating the talented Huskies.
Throughout the first half it was clear what the plan of attack was for the Huskies: go right after Partch on the left sideline. That didn’t go well for Battle Mountain as Partch rose to the task while playing through an illness, hitting the brakes on any sort of attack the Huskies tried to mount.
“He’s just been a tremendous player for us,” Smith said of Partch, who won the starting job last season. “He was just super, super tough today. They kept trying to work that left side on him, and he stopped it, stopped it and stopped it again.”
Thanks to the back line’s standout play throughout the first half, Glenwood raced into halftime with a 1-0 lead in its homecoming game.
The break helped the Huskies get their legs underneath them, though, as Battle Mountain came out of the break with a noticeable jump in its step, quickly knotting the game up at 1-1 just under four minutes into the second half.
Pressured deep in its own end, Glenwood struggled to get the ball out of the final third, which led to a turnover to Battle Mountain junior Josh Keiser, who pressed up from the back line. Keiser found junior Louis Castillo unmarked in the middle of the field, leading to a quick shot along the ground inside the far left post, making it a 1-1 game with 36:47 left in the first half.
“They just happened to have a guy there who played a short ball into the man in the middle of the field, and boom,” Smith said. “It wasn’t their typical offensive buildup where they’re working the ball around and putting runs together. It was a bit of tough luck for us.”
Tied 1-1, Battle Mountain started to apply heavy pressure to Glenwood, forcing a handful of misplays that led to chances for the Huskies. Fortunately, standout senior goalkeeper Carlos Guardado was up to the task.
Guardado came way off of his line to challenge senior Trevino Twiss along the right sideline midway through the half. Guardado’s initial challenge failed, but the senior came through in the clutch, winning the ball back for his knees to clear it away, negating a strong scoring chance for the Huskies.
Then, Guardado skied high over the Huskies’ striker on a corner kick to pluck the ball out of the air, later making a diving stop on a shot from Twiss, keeping the game tied at 1-1.
“This is the first time he’s been tested all year, really,” Smith said. “He really came out and was like a sweeper keeper at times. It feels like he tripled the number of saves on the year, all due to this game. He was outstanding back there.”
Late in the second half the Demons put together a great scoring chance that could have snapped the tie as Garces and Alvarado pulled off a give and go on the left sideline before Garces crossed the ball into the box to Bernal. The senior forward couldn’t settle the ball down quickly enough, which led to a rushed shot that skipped wide of the right goalpost, ultimately sending the two teams to overtime.
In the first overtime, Battle Mountain nearly won the game as All-State caliber forward Danny Barajas headed a corner kick on goal that Guardado tipped wide thanks to a well-timed dive. On the ensuing corner, Barajas again put a good header on goal that Guardado had trouble controlling, leading to a cross back into the box by sophomore Ivan Solis to Twiss on the back post. Twiss’ chance was turned away by Guardado and Partch, sending the game to a second overtime.
Gassed at this point, Glenwood didn’t mount many offensive chances, but Burt came up large late defensively for the Demons with a perfectly timed slide tackle on Barajas, clearing the ball away to close down any semblance of a scoring chance, leading to the 1-1 tie.
Battle Mountain sees its record move to 8-0-1 (5-0-1), while Glenwood moves to 6-0-2 (3-0-2). The Demons return to action Tuesday at home against Steamboat Springs at 6 p.m.
“We have to take care of business; we have to win out,” Smith said. “If we can take care of business, we know it can be us and Battle Mountain there in the end battling for the league championship.”
The two teams meet again in Edwards on Oct. 22.
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It was a statement game featuring the two best boys basketball teams in the 4A Western Slope League on Saturday afternoon at the Chavez-Spencer Gymnasium in Glenwood Springs. And, just like in the old western shootouts, it was the Glenwood Demons who had spoken the loudest when all the dust had settled with a key 58-44 win over the Steamboat Springs Sailors.