The Paonia/Delta County High School soccer team experienced the disadvantages of fielding a team made up of several schools Saturday at Loudy-Simpson Field. Without four starters from Hotchkiss, the Eagles lost 6-0 to Moffat County.
"I don't want to take anything away from (Moffat County)," coach Yogi Cherp said. "This is a team that lost 3-2 to Glenwood, but we weren't that caliber today."
Coming off the first season sweep of Steamboat Springs in school history, the Bulldogs took control early. They possessed the ball most of the first half, out-shooting the Eagles 14-3.
Thirteen minutes into the half, Moffat County senior Dustin White dribbled the ball to the right of the goal to pull a couple of defenders toward him.
When the defense committed, he centered the ball to junior Pepe Loya-Mendoza, who headed the ball into the net.
"We came out a little flat," said junior Jake Bilodeau. "But we were still up in the first half."
Six minutes after his first goal, Loya-Mendoza received a pass from midfield that split the Paonia defenders.
He broke the offside trap on the left side and sent the ball across the goalie's box into the net.
Just as they had in the Steamboat game, the Bulldogs opened up an early cushion.
"I put our two best scorers (Loya-Mendoza and Miguel Martinez) up front in the last two games, and it has given us an early boost," coach Jeff Hammond said. "Once we get the early goals, we can adjust."
Except for two Paonia shots late in the half, the Bulldogs controlled the ball the rest of the 40 minutes.
But Moffat County couldn't score.
Hammond spent the first 10 minutes of the second half yelling at his team to wake up. Paonia had more shots -- four -- than they had the entire first half.
"We tend to fall asleep at the beginning of the second," he said. "It has been a problem for us, so I was trying to remind them of that."
Martinez woke up the team 18 minutes into the half when he took possession of the ball at midfield, dribbled through three defenders and sent a shot from the right side into the top of the goal.
Bilodeau put his name in the score book six minutes later when he collected a loose ball 15 yards from the goal, dribbled twice and drilled the ball into the net.
Dustin White and Scott Smith added goals in the final five minutes for the Bulldogs.
"We're playing well as a team right now," Bilodeau said. "Hopefully, we can keep playing that way the rest of the year."
The Bulldogs will need to play well in their next game.
The team travels to Battle Mountain on Tuesday to take on the Western Slope League-leading Huskies. The Huskies wrapped up a WSL title Saturday with a 3-2 win against Glenwood Springs.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 970-824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org.