After a solid week of practice, the Bulldog soccer team was ready for an intense game against Rifle Tuesday afternoon, at Loudy-Simpson Park. What they got was a lackluster performance and a 2-1 loss to the Rifle Bears in Western Slope League play.
"It seems like every time we start trying hard, and the other team catches a break, we have a hard time getting back up field," captain Ian Forgay said.
The Bulldogs' play during the first half was not unlike previous games, with the other team getting a goal advantage, this time that team was Rifle.
At 12:00, Rifle's Ryan Melody took a solid shot 10 yards out to beat Bulldog goalie Mike Lefler on the weak side and put the Bears up 1-0.
This time for the Bulldogs, their wakeup call came a little early, and Armando Lopez retaliated at 17:00. Lopez stole the ball and sent a floater up into the left corner and over Rifle goalie Brandon Brogard's head.
The excitement following Moffat County's goal was soon silenced as Rifle put up its second goal, again by Melody, this time in heavy traffic, which left Lefler with an unclear view of the ball.
"We should have won," coach Jeff Hammond said. "We had the opportunities."
Hammond was disappointed after the game, especially having things go well during the week.
"I thought I made the right adjustments," Hammond said. "They beat us to the ball 80 percent of the time."
The Bears, who were beat by Moffat County last year in the final minute, were not about to have a repeat performance of that game.
"Our defense and midfield controlled the tempo of the game," Rifle coach Tom Tauc-her said. "I think we need to work on finishing, and we needed to carry the ball more."
Although Taucher was quick to point out that his team still needs work, he noted that they took a good step toward getting better.
"We're looking to find 80 minutes of consistent soccer," Taucher said.
Hammond noted that this was one of the toughest losses in his four years as coach.
"There were some players today that let their teammates down," Hammond said.
He was also quick to point out that the second half went much better than the first for the Bulldogs.
"We shut them out in the second half," Hammond said. "Even though they outshot us, they weren't getting quality shots."
Forgay isn't sure what happened to his team during the game and said that it seems to be a recurring theme throughout this season.
"One guy gets down on someone, and it's like a chain reaction," Forgay said. "Today just wasn't our day. As soon as we came here, we fell apart, and we couldn't get it together."
The lack of intensity showed, Hammond said, although traditionally Rifle has had the upper hand in speed, it was the Bulldogs' lack of it that put them behind the gun.
"We didn't challenge for the ball," Hammond said. "We didn't run at all."
The next challenge facing the Bulldogs will be a game at 11 a.m. Saturday at Loudy-Simpson Park against Eagle Valley, who is coming off a 3-3 tie with Steamboat Springs.
Melanie McDaniels can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org.