There was an unfamiliar sound coming from the Moffat County soccer bench on Saturday. Actually, there wasn't much sound at all.
"They made a silent bench rule," head coach Jeff Hammond explained. "I was making them nervous."
Hammond's booming voice was easy to recognize at previous games, but the silence Saturday left the Bulldogs with a 2-1 victory against Eagle Valley.
The 180-degree turnaround for the team was something Hammond said they did all on their own.
"We had a team meeting Friday and watched the World Cup final game," Hammond said.
He also said the players came to him and they discussed what they needed from him as a coach. He listened to his players, and took the vow of silence.
The first half of the game at Loudy-Simpson Park was electric, with the Bulldogs opening the scoring eight minutes into the game. On a set play, Alvara Rodriquez nailed the ball past Eagle Valley goalie Trevor Grayson. The direct kick gave Moffat County the 1-0 lead.
The Bulldogs controlled play on the muddy field throughout the first half and built their lead with another goal at 21:00. This time a penalty kick from Oscar Ramos drove past Grayson in the lower left corner. The PK came from an Eagle Valley player tripping Bulldog Armando Lopez in the box.
The lead was a first for the Bulldogs this season, who have repeatedly said it takes them two or three goals before they "wake up."
The Bulldogs woke up early Saturday.
The lone goal scored by Eagle Valley came in the first half, as midfielder Gilberto Martinez took advantage of Bulldog goal keeper Mike Lefler, who came out of the goal to make the save off a shot from Eagle Valley. Martinez was able to get the ball away, right before Lefler got a hand on it and put it past him at 26:00.
On to victory
Up 2-1 at the half, the Bulldogs had to keep the momentum in their favor if they wanted to come out with a win. When the second half of play began, the Bulldogs remained steady, not letting the weather or Eagle Valley's renewed energy get them.
As they have done all season, Moffat County played a solid second half of soccer.
Eagle Valley head coach Chad Sloniker said he was disappointed with his team after the game.
"There was no leadership. There was no heart or passion. And they just didn't want it," Sloniker said. "I didn't see the light come on and they didn't step up to the challenge."
The Devils' play was slow. They were continuously beat to balls and out muscled by Moffat County's hustle and speed.
"As a coach, I'm befuddled," Sloniker said. "They're quitting."
The Bulldogs were held scoreless in the second half, but returned the favor to the Devils. With scoring opportunities left untouched, the Bulldogs were still happy with their performance. The win puts Moffat County at 1-3-1 overall and 1-2-0 in Western Slope League play.
The Bulldogs will now prepare to face Palisade Tuesday in Palisade.
Melanie McDaniels can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 211, or firstname.lastname@example.org.