Demons battle back, tie Huskies 2-2 in season finale
What. A. Classic.
When the Glenwood Springs Demons and Battle Mountain Huskies girls soccer teams meet up on the pitch in 4A Western Slope League action, a great game is bound to break out. That’s exactly what happened Thursday night at Stubler Memorial Field on Glenwood’s senior night as the Demons roared back from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits to tie the No. 12 Huskies in the regular season finale.
The tie keeps Glenwood’s home unbeaten streak alive, pushing it to 18 games dating back to April 2017.
“That’s significant for us,” said senior Sarah Helm after the tie. “It’s great to play at home in front of our fans because they keep us pumped up, and we take a lot of pride in that streak and this home-field advantage.”
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Coming into Thursday’s matchup, Battle Mountain already had the league championship locked up with a perfect 11-0 mark in league play, compared to Glenwood’s 9-2 mark. Realistically, Thursday’s game was mostly meaningless for the Huskies from a league standings standpoint, but it meant a great deal to the Demons as they celebrated the careers of seniors Ashley Weir, Levyn Thomas, Sierra McKinney, Leigh Anne Johnson, Julia Mulhall, Brooke Hunter, Malia Baltzer and Helm, as well as vying to keep the unbeaten streak alive.
“If there’s one thing that’s very special about this group, especially the seniors, it’s that they never give up,” said Joe Calabrese, Glenwood’s head coach. “It doesn’t matter what the deficit is, they just will never give up. For me, that’s a special thing.”
Right away, Glenwood came out with a high level of intensity, controlling possession early in the game’s first 10 minutes. The Demons couldn’t muster any strong chances, though, which helped tilt the field in favor of Battle Mountain as the Huskies put together a couple of runs on goal thanks to senior Audrey Teague and junior Kate Mitchell. Glenwood sophomore goalkeeper Abby Scruton kept the Huskies at bay early with a spectacular save on a drive by Teague from outside of the box at the 12:20 mark, punching the shot high over the crossbar for a pivotal save early in the game.
However, that chance by Teague built up momentum for the Huskies as Battle Mountain received a corner kick off of Scruton’s save, leading to a header into the top left corner of the net from leaping senior defender Addie Smith at the 12:44 mark, giving the Huskies a quick 1-0 lead.
Playing on the friendly grass of Stubler Memorial Field with the rowdy home crowd behind them, the Demons didn’t blink as freshman Ella Johnson put together the first scoring chance of the game for the Demons a little over five minutes later, beating Smith one-on-one along the left sideline before racing in on Battle Mountain senior goalkeeper Wilder Isom.
Isom sprawled out, getting a piece of Johnson’s shot on goal, keeping Glenwood off the board.
Much like Teague’s chance for the Huskies earlier in the game, Johnson’s run swung momentum in favor of Glenwood, leading to an incredible header by Helm off of a corner kick from junior Summer McSwain at the 29:25 mark, knotting the game at 1-1. Helm skyed over a trio of Battle Mountain defenders to head the ball into the top left corner of the net, igniting the home crowd. Helm’s first-half header was the first league-play goal allowed all season by the Huskies.
That momentum generated by Glenwood was short-lived, though, as Mitchell pounced on a fortunate rebound off the post off of another great Scruton save. The Battle Mountain junior settled the ball down as she was wide open in the box and slipped a shot past a diving Scruton into the far left corner of the net, giving the Huskies a 2-1 lead heading into the half.
Following a 15-minute halftime ceremony to honor the Glenwood seniors, the Demons came out on their heels a bit following the emotional break, but Scruton stood tall early, shutting down Teague with a diving stop before punching a free kick wide left from sophomore Gabby Caballero, keeping the Demons within striking distance at 2-1.
Attempting to switch things up and play the ball over the top of an aggressive Battle Mountain back line, the Demons created a number of good scoring chances for Johnson and sophomore Tatum Lily, but neither of the underclassmen scoring sensations could capitalize. At least until Johnson, who gave Smith fits all game long along the wing, drew a penalty in the box at the end of a long run down the left wing, setting up a penalty kick against Isom 10 minutes into the second half.
Eyeing her spot, Johnson fired a shot past a stationary Isom who guessed wrong on the kick, tying the game at 2-2 with 29:04 left in the game.
From that point on, the two teams traded chance after chance as McSwain just missed on a 20-yard left-footed boot with 15 minutes to go, while Lily fired one just high on a breakaway, allowing the Huskies to catch a break.
The game nearly ended regulation in controversy, though, as the official on the far sideline called Scruton for a late elbow on Caballero while picking up the ball in the box, giving the Huskies what appeared to be a penalty kick before being moved a yard outside of the box for a Grade-A scoring chance on a free kick for Caballero. Fortunately for the Demons, Caballero missed wide left.
After the controversial call, the game headed into overtime where the two teams fought and scraped for every loose ball, but neither team could come up with the game-winning goal in the end.
Glenwood Springs wraps up the season with a 10-4-1 (9-2-1 in 4A WSL; second in league standings) record on the year. The Demons, who made a run to the 4A state semifinals last season, await Sunday’s state playoff bracket release. Currently, the Demons sit No. 28 in the 4A RPI rankings, meaning the Demons will likely hit the road for the first-round matchup. It will mark the third straight season Glenwood enters the state playoffs under Calabrese.
“It’s really rewarding for me because this is something that they wanted; they just needed the belief,” said Calabrese. “That first year in the playoffs started this run, and after that … having the belief does great things for us.”
They’ll likely head into the state tournament as underdogs, but that’s perfectly fine with this group.
“It’s going to be exciting,” said Thomas. “We’re going to be the underdogs because of our low RPI rankings. It kind of puts a chip on our shoulders. I think some people might not expect us to come out as strong, but we’re excited to get going and prove people wrong.”
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CHSAA has announced the creation of a new task force that will explore different options for fall sports.