MCHS soccer loses Grand Junction grudge match, 3-2

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How they scored

First half:

MCHS (1-0): Johnny Landa goal, assisted by Tracy Mendoza

GJHS (1-1): Grand Junction goal

GJHS (2-1): Grand Junction goal

Second half:

GJHS (3-1): Grand Junction goal

MCHS (3-2): Alex Perez penalty kick goal

GRAND JUNCTION — A few things were different in the Moffat County High School soccer team’s rematch against Grand Junction.

Besides not having the home field advantage against the 5A team this time around, the Bulldogs were taking on a team eager for payback.

After a 6-2 victory earlier in the season against the Tigers, the Bulldogs lost, 3-2, to the team in Saturday’s road game.

“They were just a lot tougher,” MCHS coach Rusty Cox said.

The game began the same as many this season, with the Bulldogs drawing first blood.

Junior Johnny Landa scored the first goal of the game with an assist provided by senior Tracy Mendoza after about five minutes of play.

But, from then on, the momentum of the game shifted as the Tigers put in two unanswered goals in the first half, followed by a third immediately after halftime.

The Bulldogs’ strength in controlling the outside flanks of the field and driving the ball was nullified by the Tiger defense, which Grand Junction coach Steve Latta attributed to the return of players who were unable to play when the Tigers came to Craig.

“It was a totally different roster, which I think surprised them,” Latta said.

The Bulldogs did not give up easily, with sophomore Alex Perez successfully scoring on a penalty kick with about 30 minutes remaining. Neither team scored for the rest of the game, though a barrage of shots courtesy of Perez, junior Jonathan Pando and sophomore Favian Quezada kept the Tigers on the defensive.

“They’ve got a lot of guys who are hungry for goals,” Latta said. “They really put the pressure on us.”

MCHS coach Rusty Cox said he was pleased with the game because his team played hard to the end.

“It was a hard-fought game,” Cox said.

Past injuries kept junior Lupe Rodriguez off the field, and Mendoza was almost taken out after getting slammed to the ground and hurting his shoulder.

Cox said Mendoza insisted on playing.

“This group of guys is pretty tough,” he said. “They just buck right up and play.”

The loss is the team’s second of the week, following Thursday’s 5-3 defeat by Battle Mountain, putting MCHS at 8-4 overall. The latest game does not figure in to the team’s 4-3 Western Slope League standing, with Grand Junction not in the 4A bracket.

The Bulldogs travel Tuesday to Glenwood Springs for another rematch, having beaten the Demons, 3-1, on Oct. 2.

“Glenwood will be tough, no doubt about it,” Cox said. “If we back off at all, they’ll win.”

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