Home sweet home.
This was the sentiment shared by the Moffat County High School boys varsity soccer team in their Friday game hosting Palisade High School at Loudy-Simpson Park.
The MCHS Bulldogs (7-1-0 overall, 3-1 Western Slope League) got right back on their feet following Tuesday’s loss at Battle Mountain (5-1-0, 4-1), returning home and defeating the Palisade Bulldogs (2-5-1, 0-3-1), 8-2.
“Having grass instead of Astroturf makes a big difference,” Coach Rusty Cox said. “Battle Mountain is big on soccer, and with them having a field like that, it was a much faster-paced game.”
Junior Johnny Landa agreed that the Palisade game was slower.
“We just couldn’t get the hang of passing in Battle Mountain,” Landa said.
Passing wasn’t a problem for the team in their latest game, as they worked the ball around the field. Fans on the sidelines only had a five-minute wait before the home Bulldogs kicked in their first goal, an unassisted shot by sophomore Alan Flores, which narrowly missed the Palisade goalie’s outreached hands.
Four more Moffat County goals followed in the first half, as well as one by Palisade.
“We started out pretty good, but we had to keep it up,” Flores said. “It was a tough game, and we had to stay on defense. You can’t just go, go, go all the time.”
Both teams played aggressively, a quality Cox noted in Palisade.
“They’ve come a long way,” he said. “They’re playing tougher.”
Palisade’s defensive work tightened in the second half, with the maroon Bulldogs doing all they could to prevent the blue Bulldogs from making a breakaway.
The boys in blue nevertheless made their way back to the opposing goal, none more than sophomore Alex Perez, who finished the game with a hat trick, a goal which also counted as Moffat County’s 50th of the season, the highest count of any Western Slope team.
Perez said the team needed to keep up, even with the slower pace of the game.
“We need to stay focused,” Perez said.
Perez also said passing during the game was more prevalent.
Many of the game’s passes were shots on goal that turned into assists, such as Landa’s first goal, which was the result of his booting in a wide kick by senior Tracy Mendoza.
Minutes later, Landa scored his second goal, an unassisted one, which he said he preferred between the two.
“A goal’s a goal, but I like a challenge,” Landa said.
Cox said he expects a challenge in the team’s next game, as they travel Thursday to Eagle Valley (2-4-1, 1-2), whom the Bulldogs beat 12-4 on Sept. 18.
“They’ll have their key players back then,” Cox said. “We’ll have to be tough.”