Thursday's Bulldogs varsity soccer game was played under stormy skies and a cloud of controversial calls as the Moffat County team fell 3-0.
The crowd huddled under umbrellas and sipped hot drinks as the players slipped and slogged in the wet grass. The game was actually played very close, but the Bulldogs eventually succumbed to Rifle's experience and officiating that at least seemed lopsided.
"It was disgusting," said a frustrated Eric Johnson, Bulldogs' head coach.
Johnson felt his team played well, and he is pleased with the progress they've made since the opening game.
"Our team is improving by leaps and bounds," Johnson said. "The difference between this game and the Central game was night and day."
The Bulldogs lost 6-0 to Central in their opening game.
"We didn't make the little mistakes today," Johnson added. "The team came ready to play today, but we had to overcome a big obstacle in mid-field," Johnson said, referring to the questionable calls.
At one point, early in the game, a foul was called against the Bulldogs in the box, resulting in a penalty kick (PK) for Rifle. The kick sailed wide, but the official claimed Bulldogs' goal keeper, Brandon Duarte, had moved forward out of his position. The keeper can move laterally along the goal mouth, but cannot approach the kicker during a PK. From the sideline, it appeared that Duarte did stay along the goal mouth, but the official allowed a second PK for Rifle, and that one found the back of the net for the first tally of the game.
Later in the game, Rifle was attacking the Moffat County goal, but one of the attackers received a pass that seemed clearly offside. The whistle blew, and the Bulldogs' sideline expected to gain possession of the ball. Instead, another Bulldogs foul was called, resulting in an direct kick just outside the box. Frustration seemed to permeate the Bulldogs' sideline and the players on the field, but they played through it and produced some scoring chances of their own.
On one of those chances, the score seemed to lose its importance as one of the Bulldogs' forwards went down in a terrifying collision.
A through pass rolled fast toward the Rifle goal, and Mike Cammer shifted into high gear in pursuit. With his mind fixed on catching up to the ball before the Rifle keeper could pick it up, Cammer charged head-long through the box. The Rifle goal tender weighs in at about 200 pounds, and he barely budged when Cammer slammed into him. Cammer landed on his head after spinning around the keeper, and the crowd and sideline went silent as Cammer lay motionless, face-down in the wet grass.
The paramedics on scene strapped Cammer to a stretcher for transportation to the hospital, but he was talkative and in good spirits as he was carried to the ambulance.
Cammer received no major injuries in the collision and was released from The Memorial Hospital by 7 p.m.
"I was trying to miss him," Cammer said, "but he moved to the side, and I just slammed into him. I wasn't knocked out, I was just feeling dizzy," he added.
Cammer said he's ready to play in this Saturday's game against Palisade, "If they'll let me."
The Bulldogs face off against a tough Palisade team at Loudy Simpson Park Saturday at 11 a.m.