Tied, 1-1, at the half Saturday afternoon against visiting Eagle Valley, the Bulldogs had to be pleased with the defense played against Devils senior Cesar Castillo.
Castillo, the reigning Western Slope League player-of-the-year scored Battle Mountain's lone goal early, and yet, the flashy forward was silent most of the frame.
But Castillo's silence was short-lived.
Battle Mountain (5-1 overall, 2-1 WSL) broke open the game in the second half behind Castillo's second and third goals on its way to a 5-1 victory.
The loss was the fourth consecutive for Moffat County to begin the season.
"We lost the mindset that we had in the first half," MCHS coach Rusty Cox said of the Bulldogs being shutout in the second half, 4-0. "We weren't playing our game. We got away from what we do best, the passing and communicating on the field."
Eagle Valley did what they do best.
The Devils put the ball into the hands of their playmaker and let him go to work.
Castillo broke the tie 7 minutes and 22 seconds into the second half, juking several Bulldog defenders on his way to setting up Adrian Gomez for a breakaway go-ahead score.
Less than five minutes later, Castillo showed his strong leg, scoring a curving free kick from more than 40 yards out.
"We started out slow, playing their game," Castillo said. "But once we got back to playing our game, we just ran through them."
Castillo completed his hat trick at 28:30, splitting the Moffat County defense and scoring on a breakaway, putting the Devils up three goals.
Gomez scored his second goal off of Castillo's second assist of the game, to account for the final margin of victory.
"Everybody really stepped up in the second half," Castillo said. "We passed well, had good teamwork and played together. When we play together, we are a much better team."
Moffat County (0-4 overall, 0-4 WSL) had its chances early.
Manuel Tarango scored on a penalty kick 23 minutes into the first half to tie the game, but the Bulldogs couldn't sustain enough offensive pressure to take the lead.
A scuffle broke out on the field when the Devils took the lead, 2-1, an incident Cox said led to some Moffat County dissension.
"The game totally changed after that happened," he said. "We couldn't get our heads right after that. They have got to get it through their heads that when they work as a team they are really good."
Devils coach Jason Rittmiller was pleased with how his team responded after the midfield melee.
"You could just see that we were in better condition" than Moffat County, he said. "Our midfield moved the ball forward effectively, and we put a lot more pressure on them in the second half.
"When we played their game, we broke down. When we played our game, we broke through."
Moffat County looks to break into the win column Friday, when Palisade High School (0-5, overall, 0-3 WSL) visits Loudy-Simpson Park.
John Vandelinder can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org