The Moffat County High School boys soccer team opened their 2000 season Thursday with an eye- and chin-opening 6-0 loss to Central High School from Grand Junction.
Central lashed out with two goals in the first 2:14 of the game and never looked back. The Bulldogs managed only three shots in the game to Central's 33-shot barrage.
Bulldogs' head coach Eric Johnson cited intensity as the major difference between the two teams. Speaking of Central's attacking style, Johnson said, "This is the intensity I've been telling them I want to see in practice. They're getting a good idea of what I'm talking about," he said.
Experience was a critical factor, as well. Jeffrey Shuldener, the Central coach, said he had only four players who didn't play at least some varsity minutes last season. He also cited an attacking philosophy as a big plus for his squad.
"Our back line gets real involved in the attack," Shuldener said. "Several of our shots came from our back-line players."
In contrast to Central's experience, the Bulldogs have 16 freshman on the team this season, so a majority of players were getting their first taste of varsity ball.
The younger squad found themselves on the losing end of many 50/50 balls, and could not outbattle Central for the high balls, either.
"It's just an indication f the fact that one of the teams was older," Shuldener said. "At just about every position, we had an inch or two on them."
The Bulldogs had to overcome another obstacle when their top player, Isidro Quezada went down early in the first half. Quezada went head-to-head with a teammate and came away with a deep gash under his chin. He was taken to the hospital, and should be back on the field for this weekend's tournament in Colorado Springs.
Bulldogs' goalie Brandon Duarte was actually strong in goal, despite the lopsided score. He made 27 saves, and continued giving support to his teammates in the face of a hailstorm of opposing shots.
"It was intense," Duarte said of the experience. "After everybody started to work better together, things began to get better out there." Duarte said his team was bunching up too much in the defensive zone, so it was hard to clear the ball out past the midfield stripe.
"Our freshmen started out slow," Johnson said, "but they picked it up in the second half. They had to get the jitters out." Johnson was especially impressed with freshman Kolt Lake who played a solid defensive second half for the Bulldogs.
"We weren't making hard passes," Johnson said. "They weren't going to the ball; they were letting it come to them. The next game we need to come out ready to go some of them just came out too tentative today."