The Bulldog soccer team faced one of its toughest seasons to date, but now in retrospect, the team knows that just like everything in life, this season was a learning process.
"We all learned to play with each other this year," junior Tucker Bilodeau said.
Along with playing the members of the soccer team learned a valuable lesson in pulling through a struggle.
"Everyone learns differently and in a different way," coach Jeff Hammond said. "But some of the hardest and best learned lessons are learned through trial and tribulation, and we had a lot of that."
The win/loss column may not have been the greatest -- the Bulldogs ended 2-12-1 -- but the experience gained by younger players on the team will be valuable next year.
"We all improved from the beginning of the season to the very last game," Bilodeau said.
Losing only two players to graduation this season will benefit Hammond when next August rolls around.
"Anybody that has experience and that comes back, will be back to play harder next year," Hammond said.
Other Western Slope teams like Glenwood Springs, Palisade, and Battle Mountain will be looking for young players to step in next year, because they will be losing a host of seniors that carried them through the 2006 season.
"Good programs that have numbers continually replace players," Hammond said.
Hammond also said that because of the quality of the programs he expects other teams to reload, but has high hopes for next years Moffat County squad.
Bilodeau thinks that the seniority on the team will only be beneficial to the Bulldogs because of where it took them during the 2005 season.
The Bulldogs are hoping for a 180-degree turnaround, and with the right chemistry they could manage it.
After qualifying for playoffs last year, this season was much more disappointing.
The only two wins of the season came three weeks apart. The first, a 2-1 victory against Eagle Valley on Sept. 16 at Loudy-Simpson Park and the second against Rifle, which was another 2-1 decision on Oct. 7.
As the season progressed for the Bulldogs, there were times when things looked bad, but many times Hammond saw good things happening.
"Absolutely I saw good things," Hammond said. "The reason you play high school sports is to prepare you for things that happen in life. When kids can learn the gracefulness of winning and losing correctly it's going to bode well for them in the future."
As the season wore on, some players on the team became frustrated or so aloof, that there was not much effort put out on offense or defense, but two players than continually gave tireless effort to their team were Bilodeau and sophomore Oscar Ramos.
Hammond along with other coaches in the league gave Ramos and Bilodeau the nod for post-season honors, but won't find out if they got it until after the state tournament.
"It wasn't so much that I nominated the players, it's that the other coaches and kids knew and respected their level of play," Hammond said. "They knew that they contributed to their team."
Hammond knows he put high expectations on his players this year, and does not regret that decision for a single second.
"There are a lot of things I wanted to see out of them this year, that may not have been fair to expect," Hammond said. "But I put high expectations on myself and my family, and I consider each player on my team adopted. If you don't put some level of expectation on them they don't have a goal to go for."
Although the 2006 chapter has come to the end for Bulldog soccer, 2007 is just around the corner.
Melanie McDaniels can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bulldogs vs. Fruita Monument- loss, 6-0
Bulldogs vs. Grand Junction H.S.- tie, 3-3
Bulldogs vs. Glenwood Springs- two losses, 7-2 goal differential in favor of Glenwood
Bulldogs vs. Rifle- split, 3 goals apiece.
Bulldogs vs. Eagle Valley- split, 12-5 goal differential in favor of Eagle Valley
Bulldogs vs. Palisade- two losses, 12-3 goal differential in favor of Palisade
Bulldogs vs. Battle Mountain- two losses, 9-1 goal differential in favor of Battle Mountain
Bulldogs vs. Steamboat Springs- two losses, 7-0 goal differential in favor of Steamboat
Bulldogs vs. Grand Junction Central- loss, 7-0
In a 15 game season the Bulldogs came out with a .14 winning percentage.
They allowed 66 goals and put in 14.