Cougars bounced on penalty kicks

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Evergreen’s three-year playoff winning streak over Battle Mountain is snapped

By Michael Hicks

Matthew Jackson struggled with his emotions. The Evergreen senior had just watched his Cougars play 110 grueling minutes, including 30 in overtime, and a series of penalty kicks. Jackson took the last of those kicks, having his attempt — the third straight by Evergreen — deflected by Battle Mountain goalkeeper Christian Espinoza.
The result was sixth-seeded Battle Mountain, behind penalty-kick goals from Erick Broines, Roberto Diaz and Gunnar Wilson, posting a 2-1 4A state quarterfinal victory over the host Cougars at Evergreen High School on Nov. 1.
“They deserved to win,” Jackson said after the Cougars’ season ended with a 13-2-3 record.
“They’re good. Every one told us they were a really good 17-0,” said Evergreen junior goalkeeper Matt Hornbecker, who made 21 saves. “We almost had them. We came up just a little short.”
The loss snapped third-seeded Evergreen’s three-game winning streak against Battle Mountain in the postseason. EHS beat the Huskies in the first round in 2009, the second round in 2010 and the quarterfinals last year. But be it fate or the Huskies’ will to win, Battle Mountain (18-0) advances to face No. 2 seed Broomfield in the state semifinals on Nov. 7.
Evergreen took a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute on its first shot on goal when Joe McKenna headed in an assist from Jackson, but the Huskies quickly evened the score at 1-all two minutes later when Diaz punched home a corner-kick assist from Diego Rodriguez. The fact that Battle Mountain, which controlled the offensive flow for much of the contest, tied the score so quickly sapped any momentum Evergreen gained from scoring first, senior Ethan Jackson said.
“We have a policy for five minutes after we score we need to keep our head. I think we just lost that focus for that split second,” he said. “It’s unlucky.”
Even though, Battle Mountain outshot Evergreen and took 11 corner kicks to just four for EHS, Evergreen head coach Peter Jeans was pleased by the play of his team’s bend-but-don’t-break defense.
“I thought our whole team played a great game. That’s an awesome team we played today. I was very proud of how they kept them to the one goal,” Jeans said. “We were very compact in the back and also had great goaltending, very disciplined. We just played a tremendous game. It’s a shame that kind of game has to go to penalties.”
But, as Jeans said, there was no shame in losing to a team that may have been far better than its sixth seed suggested.
“That’s just a good team. We expected a battle, and it was a battle,” Jeans said. “I don’t know if it’s destiny or anything like that (about Battle Mountain winning). In the end, we both played a great game. Penalties are an odd way to settle a game, but it’s part of soccer. We came out on the short end of penalties this time.”