For the first 18 minutes of their soccer match, Moffat County High School and Fruita Monument looked evenly matched -- with the Bulldogs perhaps even enjoying advantage because they had three shots on goal to the Wildcats' one.
Then Fruita subbed in itsfastest striker.
Wildcat Junior Danny Chavez broke through the Bulldog defense two minutes after entering the game to put a shot past Bulldog goalie Malcom Hillewaert. Four minutes later, he broke free again for a shot. The shot was stopped by Hillewaert but the rebound went back to a Fruita player while the Bulldog goalie was still down. The only way to stop the rebound shot was for a Bulldog defender to stick out his arm. The hand ball resulted in a penalty kick and James Comerford put the shot in the back of the net.
"We have three really good strikers who all have different styles," Fruita coach Raymond Houck said. "I don't bring in Danny right away so his speed can surprise the defense."
The Chavez surprise wasn't yet complete. Seven minutes later he struck again to be a part of three goals in 11 minutes.
"Our defense struggled with communication in the first half," Moffat County coach Jeff Hammond said. "We could tell we hadn't played together much as a defense."
The Bulldogs scored their first goal of the year when Miguel Martinez took a pass from Hugo Quezada and put it past the Fruita goalie with less than a minute remaining in the first half.
The second half looked more like the first 18 minutes of the game. Fruita struck first but had the goal negated on an offside call. Bulldog senior Dustin White made the game interesting when he scored 14 minutes into the second half to move the score to 3-2. The captain scored by trifling a loose ball in the goalie's box into the goal.
The rest of the half the Bulldog attack couldn't capitalize and Fruita added a goal with two minutes left in the game to finish the game 4-2.
"We were more controlled and aggressive in the second half," White said. "I think we can learn from that and get better."
Hammond also was upbeat about the way his team played in the second half.
"We started to come together after struggling a bit the first half," he said. 'I thought we controlled the ball well against a good team."
Because Moffat County is Class 4A and Fruita is 5A the game didn't matter in conference standings. It was basically a warm up for both.
"We saw some good things but we need to be more aggressive to the ball," Houck said. "Craig was confident with the ball and I can see them being a good team in the 4A league."
Hammond was ready to take what his team learned into the next game.
"(The game) was a good situation to get one in without it counting toward the league," he said. "That will help a lot with a tough game in Glenwood Springs. They've had our number there."
The Bulldogs take on the Demons on Saturday with the varsity game starting at 11 am.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 970-824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.