With a 3-1 victory over Steamboat Springs still on their minds, the Moffat County High School boys varsity soccer players are preparing for a foe they have not faced this year.
Moreover, they’ll be playing on a level at which none of them have yet reached.
MCHS will meet the Windsor Wizards at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Windsor High School as part of the first round of the state playoffs. This is the first year the team has made it to the playoff level since 2005. It is also the first year Rusty Cox — who is in his third year as the team’s coach — has been to the playoffs.
The Bulldogs, seeded 30th in the playoffs, will have their work cut out for them, taking on the near-undefeated Wizards, whose overall record is 14-1, 11-1 in the Tri-Valley League. They are seeded third in the tournament.
MCHS has a total record of 11-4, 7-3 in the Western Slope League. Though Windsor has a stronger overall record, Moffat County’s top scorer, senior Tracy Mendoza, boasts the highest goal count between the two teams.
Windsor’s highest scorer is Garrett Winner, with 24 this year.
Cox said he is feeling confident about the game.
“They can’t be too happy that they drew us,” he said. “They’re an offensive team, we’re an offensive team.”
Cox said he has little information about the Wizards beyond the scores of their games, one of which was 10-1.
“All we can do is play them and find out what we’re dealing with,” he said.
The Sunday night snowfall provided a unique opportunity for Cox’s team. With the fields at Loudy-Simpson Park affected by the weather, Cox moved Monday’s practice to the MCHS gym. The team scrimmaged with each other, playing a fast-paced game without keeping score.
Cox said the speed of indoor soccer will help his players be ready for the Astroturf field awaiting them in Windsor.
“When these guys get going like this, they’re hard to stop,” he said. “It lets them practice offense and defense, which is good because I want our guys to be even.”
Cox said he hopes to repeat the indoor practice today, an idea that many of his players like.
“It’s a lot faster, and I think that’ll help us be ready,” sophomore Alan Flores said.
Freshman Nestor Arellano said he was just glad to be out of the cold weather, though he expects it to be just as cold Wednesday evening.
But, Arellano is more concerned with playing a highly ranked team like the Wizards.
“If we just go out and play as a team, I think we have a chance,” he said.
Sophomore Ben Booth said he is glad to be on a playoff team his first year playing high school soccer.
“It feels pretty awesome to be part of it,” he said.