Score kicks up soccer team's morale

When called upon by her coach and teammates, Jeni Bamford answered.

The junior forward for Moffat County High School was the unanimous choice to take a penalty shot with 10 minutes left in Tuesday's soccer match at Battle Mountain (1-1). She knocked in a sharp shot to the left-bottom corner of the goal that made it past the goal.

The first goal of the season did little to help the girls soccer team in the 7-1 loss but it worked wonders for the team's morale.

"I was confident Jeni could make the shot and she delivered," coach Tom St. Louis said. "The goal is great for us. Any team would start to get discouraged if it didn't score for three games, so this goal does a lot for our team. They were ready to score."

The second conference match-up could have gone in the books as a 7-2 loss if it hadn't been for a Battle Mountain Husky. Senior Brandy Sherwood shot a goal that was called back as a hand ball because one of the Huskies defenders hit it as it went in.

The Lady 'Dogs' offense opened up overall and dominated Battle Mountain's half of the field during the second half.

The increased offensive pressure was due to coach St. Louis refocusing his approach to the game's strategy.

"I'm a defensive-minded coach and was a defensive-minded player," he said. "And at the beginning of the year I was more concerned with the girls winning the ball than what they were doing on offense."

St. Louis said he allowed the girls to spread the field and open up the offense more in Tuesday's game than he had in the past and plans to keep doing so after seeing the two-goal results.

The other change St. Louis implemented at halftime of the Battle Mountain game was to stress an aggressive attitude. The coach said he intends to continue that tactic.

"At halftime I told the girls to up their aggressiveness. To push back if they get pushed," he said. "I want them playing with the intensity I saw in the second half at Battle Mountain for the rest of the season."

The girls will try to sustain their newly found aggression at 4 p.m. today at Palisade, which will be their third conference game of the season.

The Palisade Lady Bulldogs (1-5) have struggled early on in their season, much because of the health of their players. The Lady Bulldogs have been down as many as three players, all on offense.

The injury bug has bitten Palisade's defense with two to three Lady Bulldogs considered iffy for Thursday's game.

But the strain on the Lady Bulldogs didn't stand in their way Tuesday when they scored their first win of the season over Rifle (1-2). It was a moment when the team came together, Palisade coach Sean Kennedy said.

"It was the second half of the game before Rifle that the girls started to gel and it carried through to the win Tuesday," he said. "Up to that point we were on the road and not playing as a team."

The Lady Bulldogs have a pair of crafty scorers in midfielder Kendra Nash and forward Heather Yutzy. Yutzy is one of the Palisade players questionable for the Moffat County game.

Kennedy said when his Lady Bulldogs meet Moffat County they would take a side-to-side approach instead of pushing the ball straight up field in hopes of finding a gap in the defense.

"If he (Kennedy) sticks to the same game plan he ran in the fall than I'm going to look for a good passing team and an aggressive game," St. Louis said.

Factoring into the game is the return of senior Katie Telfer, who St. Louis describes as an aggressive player.

Telfer put in the majority of her minutes on defense last season but it is uncertain where she will play this year. St. Louis said he would play Telfer at various positions around the field to see where she is most effective.

No matter who is on the field for either team, the Lady 'Dogs say they expect to score more goals as the season continues.

"We're goal hungry now," Bamford said. "We got a taste at Battle Mountain and we want more and there's definitely going to be more."

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