Steamboat's Christopher Holmquist tries to hold off Battle Mountain's Bryan Morales on Thursday night.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat's Christopher Holmquist tries to hold off Battle Mountain's Bryan Morales on Thursday night.

Battle Mountain gets goal in overtime, downs Steamboat soccer

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— Simple math meant the Battle Mountain soccer team needed just a tie Thursday in Steamboat Springs to wrap up a Western Slope League title.

But when the two premier soccer programs on the Western Slope met up, competitive spirits stirred, the lights went on and the soccer game of the year unfolded.

Battle Moun­tain (10-3 overall, 8-1 in the Western Slope League) got a goal from Heivan Garcia in the last minute of overtime Thursday against Steamboat, propelling the Huskies to a 3-2 win and league title.

“It meant a lot because the seniors have been here playing for a league title,” said Garcia, who also notched a goal early in the game. “It was fantastic. We didn’t want to go with a tie. We wanted the win.”

Battle Mountain coach Dave Cope acknowledged that going into the game needing just a tie gave Battle Mountain a huge advantage.

With a tie, the best Steamboat (7-4-1, 5-3) could do was tie Battle Mountain, who held the head-to-head advantage.

Even with that in play, right from the start there was no sense the Huskies wanted anything less than a win.

After struggling with Battle Mountain’s speed the first time the two teams met this season, Steamboat played its hand early, lining up in 4-5-1 formation with only one forward. The Sailors made it a midfield game and often had 11 players behind the ball.

It seemed to work in the intermediate as the Huskies struggled to generate early opportunities.

In the 18th minute, though, Battle Mountain struck on a corner kick. Leopoldo Rodr­iguez served up a perfect ball that found Jack Sunderland. Sunderland knocked it in over keeper Joey Haight, who fell down, for a 1-0 lead.

Steamboat got the equalizer in the 23rd minute when Enrique Lopez won a 50/50 ball just past midfield. The junior beat a pair of defenders and slipped a shot shortside past Huskies keeper Nick Vossler to tie the game at 1.

Battle Mountain responded in the 28th. Coming up the right side, Bryan Morales maintained possession and sent a low ball across the box uninterrupted. Several Steamboat defenders had the chance to clear, but the ball came to the foot of Garcia, who put it away for a 2-1 lead.

“That was just a mistake,” Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. “It happens.”

The Sailors again bounced back in the 47th minute. After a quick transition, Lopez corralled the ball just past midfield. With the defense keying on him, Lopez found a streaking Lance Ostrom up the left side. Ostrom had a perfect touch and shot to tie the game at 2.

The two teams traded opportunities until overtime. That’s when Battle Mountain decided to sit back and play for the tie.

“We tried to win the game in the second half, but once we got to overtime, the idea was to lock it down,” Cope said. “We said if we steal it or with a counterattack over the top, fine. That’s the way it played out.”

Garcia won a one-on-one ball in the air against Steamboat’s Michael Wong. Unimpeded, Gar­­cia hit low and toward the corner for the game winner.

“It means a lot,” Cope said. “Especially agai­­nst the defending champions on their field in overtime. Especially against a team and a coach we have a lot of respect for. That’s everything high school sports should be.”

Battle Mountain next plays at 6 p.m. Oct. 21 at Eagle Valley. Steamboat next plays at noon Saturday at Colorado Academy.

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