Smith nets game winner in 2-1 victory against Rifle

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Moffat County's Scott Smith scored the Bulldogs game-winning goal Saturday against Rifle.

"I got the pass from Alvara (Rodriquez) and I took it down to the flag, I crossed it a little soon, and it was a chip over the goalie's head," Smith said.

Smith said the 2-1 win was a step in the right direction for the Bulldog soccer team, even though he wished the team would have taken that step a lot earlier in the season.

On Tuesday, the Bulldogs also had a strong game, losing to Glenwood Springs by one goal.

"Our Glenwood Springs game was only 2-1, and they are second in the conference," Smith said. "If we would have been doing this at the beginning of the season, the outcome would be a lot better."

The Bulldogs faced Glenwood Springs for the first time on Sept. 9 and took a brutal 5-1 beating. So, a 2-1 game against Glenwood and a win against Rifle means the Bulldogs are coming off two strong games.

Game time

Down 1-0 at the half in the Rifle game Saturday, coach Jeff Hammond saw his players regroup and come back with renewed determination.

"Once (Rifle) scored, the guys came off the field fired up," Hammond said. "They said they can't waste time."

Hammond also said fire started on the bus trip there.

"They were much more focused," Hammond said. "They figured out they had a job to do."

The Bulldogs propelled themselves back into the game when Jesus Loya scored 15 minutes into the second half. Smith's goal followed eight minutes later.

Hammond said the Bulldogs played a great first half but couldn't find the back of the net.

"They were doing the little things right," Hammond said. "They just couldn't find the net."

With 11 shots on goal in the first half, Hammond knew it would be a matter of time until the Bulldogs' game of hide and seek was over.

"Throughout the first half we had missed scoring opportunities," Hammond said. "We out shot them 2-1 in the half and the game was close going into the second half."

Rifle scored its lone goal with 20 seconds left before halftime, when Graham Riddel, took a shot and put it past goalie Mike Lefler.

Smith said Moffat County controlled the tempo of the game until the last 10 minutes.

"When the game started closing down, we started getting nervous," Smith said.

Next up

Now the Bulldogs will head to Steamboat Springs to take on the Sailors, and they would like nothing more than to go in and steal a game from them.

"We're back in business now," Hammond said. "Our biggest test will be Tuesday against Steamboat."

Hammond said the game is going to be critical for them -- the Bulldogs have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

"The last two games, we have started pulling together," Smith said. "We've wanted the ball more than the other team."

A loss for the Sailors could put a damper on their final games of the season, shifting the momentum in their opponent's favor.

"It's going to be huge for both teams in terms of dotting the I's and crossing the T's," Hammond said.

Tuesday's start is set for 5:45 p.m. at Steamboat Springs High School.

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