A soccer game that ended ugly for both Glenwood Springs High School and Moffat County never was pretty for the Bulldogs, who took a 3-2 loss.
"The team wasn't as strong as normal," senior Rowan DuBois said. "Injuries are bad."
Moffat County was without starting goalie Malcom Hillewaert and defender Jake Bilodeau because of knee injuries. Senior forward and third-leading scorer Dustin White was on a scuba-diving trip in Mexico. Forward Juan Valencia-Lopez filled in at goalie, so the Bulldogs were without four starters for the game.
"Right now we're only 11 or 12 players deep and we've probably relied too much on those guys this year," Moffat County coach Jeff Hammond said. "We just don't have enough halves for our guys who don't play a lot to get the experience."
Tyler Long, Kyle Larmey and Chad Eitel filled in for the 'Dogs. All three had seen limited time so far this year.
"I think those guys did the best they could filling in," DuBois said. "We just didn't have the rhythm we normally do."
The lack of rhythm was obvious in the first half, when the Bulldogs were able to muster only two shots on goal that reached the Glenwood goalie. One of those shots went in for Miguel Martinez in the 35th minute. The game was tied 1-1 at halftime.
The Demons' controlled possession in the second half but had trouble getting off any sort of offense.
Angel Garcia rifled a low, bouncing shot through the defense and into the left corner of the goal with nine minutes remaining in the game.
"When Moffat started to get a little more desperate for a goal they moved their defense up a bit and we were finally able to take advantage of that space," Glenwood coach Bob Guska said. "We were struggling in the second half a bit, but we kept our heads and Angel made a great shot."
Trailing 2-1 Hammond decided to gamble by putting Hillewaert back in at goal and sending Valencia-Lopez back up to forward. The first shot on goal against Hillewaert was usually a routine stop for the sure handed and high-jumping junior. But when he landed after stopping the shot his knee buckled and the ball went loose. Glenwood's Connor Frey was right there for the rebound and put the ball in the goal.
"I shouldn't have put him back in there," Hammond said. "He's always so sure-handed and you could see with the injury he didn't have it."
In extra time, a Bulldog was tripped by the goalie in the goal box to set up a penalty kick for Hugo Quezada. The penalty kick was good for Quezada to make the game 3-2. Because time was running out for the Bulldogs Valencia-Lopez went to get the ball and run it back to midfield for a quick restart. Glenwood goalie Joe Schreiner got to the ball first. Valencia-Lopez took the ball out of Schreiner's hands, and as he started to run back to midfield, a struggle for the ball ensued. As the ball was knocked around both teams converged and several punches and kicks were thrown.
Valencia-Lopez was carded for the scrap.
"They got in our heads," Hammond said. "It had been a physical game all day, and the fight was the peak of our frustration."
With a win, the Bulldogs could have pulled within a half game of the Demons for second-place in the league. Instead an injury- and absence-plagued team dropped into fourth place with the loss.
"We expected this to be a tough game since nobody in the league has played well here," Guska said. "But I told our guys that no matter what we weren't going to let them have a home-field advantage."
The Demons are now 4-1-1 in the league and have sole possession of second place behind undefeated Battle Mountain. Rifle is in third with a 3-2-1 record. The Bulldogs, 3-3, are one game ahead of Steamboat Springs for fourth place. The top four teams qualify for the playoffs.
"We're still in good shape to make the playoffs in a tough conference," Hammond said. "You can't take away from our guys that they have competed tough in a strong league."
Next up for Moffat County is a road trip to Rifle on Thursday.
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.