Jeff Hammond thinks that for his team to get better it must play teams on the Front Range. He is hoping to schedule several trips over the mountains for next year. Today, the Moffat County High School boys soccer coach and his team will get an early peek at Front Range competition.
"Mountain View and Summit were two of the teams that I was going to try to get on the schedule next year," he said. "So this works well with that plan."
The Bulldogs left this morning for Loveland to play the Mountain View Mountain Lions in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs. It is the first playoff game in 12 years for the soccer program.
"The kids are antsy," Hammond said. "We've had a week off so they're ready to go."
The Bulldogs finished the season 9-5-1, which earned them the 23rd seed in the 32-team tournament. The Mountain Lions are 11-2-1 and are the 10th seed.
"I like how we were matched up," he said. "With this being our first year in the playoffs, several coaches told me to expect to be thrown to the wolves in the seeding. I thought maybe we would have Liberty or somebody like that right away."
Liberty, the No. 1 team in the state, will face 4-9-1 Jefferson in the first round.
Moffat County and Mountain View have never faced each other in soccer. Hammond said his team is going into the game with a game plan similar to one he would use against a familiar foe.
"Why change things up when they have worked?" he said. "I know a little bit about our opponents, but we're focusing more on what we do best."
What the Bulldogs do best is controlling the ball and attacking the goal early each half.
"Looking at the season numbers we are similar to Mountain View," Hammond said. "They have given up fewer goals but they've scored close to the same amount."
The Mountain Lions have allowed nine goals in 14 games. One of those goals was against Steamboat Springs in a 4-1 win in the first game of the season.
"We were impressed by Mountain View," Sailors coach Rob Bohlmann said. "They have a lot of speed and they play the game at a fast but controlled pace."
Bohlmann said after seeing both teams -- Moffat County beat Steamboat 3-2 and 3-0 --he thought it would be an evenly matched contest.
"If Moffat County focuses on doing what they do best, I think they will match up well," he said. "They can't let Mountain View's speed get in their head though."
The game will be a unique experience for the Bulldogs. The 7 p.m. match will be played under the lights. The last time Moffat County played a game under the lights was against Rifle in the season finale last year.