OT loss shows soccer team's weaknesses

If only the rules hadn't changed.

The Moffat County boys soccer team finished regulation tied 3-3 against Class 5A Grand Junction on Thursday and many of the players had street clothes on when officials met with the coaches from both teams.

A new rule in effect this year was that every game would have two, five-minute overtimes. Previously a non-league game didn't have OT.

Instead the Bulldogs had to put their uniforms back on for another 10 minutes of play. In the seventh minute of overtime, the Tigers' Victor Gutierrez took a nice pass in front of the goal and scored the golden goal.

"I thought our guys came out and played well the first five minutes (of OT)," Bulldog coach Jeff Hammond said. "But we broke down defensively right away in the second five."

Defensive breakdowns seemed to be a theme for the Bulldogs. Senior goalie Malcom Hille--waert was diving all over the place in the first half. Not many of his 11 saves in that half came easily.

"I was afraid it was going to get worse," he said. "It wasn't pretty out there."

The Tigers struck quickly in the fourth minute when an uncovered Raffi Cote received the ball at the top of the goalie box and scored.

The Tigers continued to confuse Moffat on defense, but they couldn't capitalize the rest of the half.

Moffat senior Pepe Loya stole a goal kick from a defender in the 25th minute and had a breakaway before he was tripped from behind. The foul occurred in the box, and Loya finished the play by scoring on a penalty kick.

The game was tied 1-1 at halftime.

Loya came back out and created two quick goals for his team. At 11:41, he stole the ball from a defender again and scored. Three minutes later, he took a pass near midfield and dribbled through several defenders before shooting the ball into the right corner.

It was the senior's first hat trick in a high school game.

With the 3-1 lead, the Bulldogs may have relaxed a bit too much.

Because one minute later, Gutierrez headed a long pass from the corner past Hillewaert to make it 3-2.

Four minutes later Cote slipped through the defense on the left for a goal.

"There's no excuse for giving up a 3-1 lead," Hammond said. "I should have changed our lineup around to be more defensive minded."

Hammond said the lineup was already in disarray because of ineligibility and injury issues.

"I had to change things up right before the game and we were uncomfortable with that," he said. "We changed it back in the second half, and it worked better."

Grand Junction coach Brad Cronk had little idea what his lineup would be coming into the year.

"We lost 10 seniors to graduation," he said. "We only have two seniors with not much experience on varsity at all."

The Tigers played like seniors to come back.

"We had some good attacks," Cronk said. "We just looked really sloppy at times."

If the Tigers looked sloppy, Hammond didn't know how to describe his team.

"They passed better, ran better and set up plays better," he said about the Tigers.

The Bulldogs have until Sept. 10 for the next game. It's not completely back to the drawing board for Hammond.

"Our offense is there," he said. "We have some work on defense though."

The next game is the league opener against Glenwood Springs.

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