Jonathan Pando, a Moffat County High School senior, follows through on what was the first goal of a game Saturday against Grand Junction High School at Loudy-Simpson Park. Pando, the MCHS boys varsity soccer team’s captain, had a goal and an assist in the 2-2 tie against the Tigers.

Jonathan Pando, a Moffat County High School senior, follows through on what was the first goal of a game Saturday against Grand Junction High School at Loudy-Simpson Park. Pando, the MCHS boys varsity soccer team’s captain, had a goal and an assist in the 2-2 tie against the Tigers.

Senior captain leads Bulldogs to tie against 5A opponent

Results

Box score from the Moffat County High School boys varsity soccer team’s game Saturday against Grand Junction High School at Loudy-Simpson Park:

(Team — 1st half — 2nd half — final)

• Moffat County — 0 — 2 — 2

• Grand Junction — 0 — 2 — 2

MCHS leading scorers:

• Jonathan Pando — 1 goal

• Alan Flores — 1 goal

When the Moffat County High School boys varsity soccer team’s leading scorer went down with an injury Saturday, the Bulldogs needed someone to step up.

Junior Alex Perez, who has three goals on the season, hit the ground early in the second half against Grand Junction High School at Loudy-Simpson Park and left a void in the middle of the field for the Bulldogs.

Jonathan Pando, the team’s senior captain, stepped in to his leadership role and helped lead the Bulldogs to a 2-2 tie against the Tigers.

“Our game plan changed when we lost Alex,” Pando said. “We didn’t really have speed in the middle of the field, so we were playing from our side of the field trying to move the ball at a different pace.”

The game was tied at zero when Perez went down.

Pando scored the first goal of the game from outside the goalie’s box.

The Grand Junction goalie got a hand on the ball, but couldn’t stop it from crossing the line to give the Bulldogs (1-1-1 overall, 0-0 Western Slope League) a 1-0 lead.

Pando again took control, sending a pass to junior teammate Alan Flores, who took a one-on-one opportunity and put MCHS up 2-0.

However, the Tigers’ height was too much for the Bulldogs late in the game, as Grand Junction scored on two last-minute corner kicks to end the contest in a tie.

While the Bulldogs’ tallest players are about 6-feet tall, Grand Junction has a few players around 6 feet, 4 inches.

“We played a hell of a game and we should have won,” Pando said. “We fought hard, but they were too tall and got the ball before us on the corner kicks.”

MCHS coach Rusty Cox said his team’s defense was terrific Saturday, but emotions got the best of them at the end of the game.

“We played good,” he said. “We settled passes and our defense and midfield held against their attack. But, we got a little frustrated at the end.

“Grand Junction is a tough, big team, but we should have won.”

Despite the outcome, Pando said he and his teammates could learn a lot from playing the 5A Tigers.

“We have to keep getting better at controlling games and settling down,” he said. “They are a hard team and we kept up with them the entire time and can use what we did as a learning experience moving forward.”

The Bulldogs will open league play Thursday

against Steamboat Springs High School at Loudy-Simpson Park.

The Sailors beat Glenwood Springs High School earlier this season, a team who also tied Grand Junction.

Cox said his team’s play against Grand Junction was a good measuring stick as the season progresses.

“We are going to have to win all battles against Steamboat,” he said. “We have to stay in better control throughout and hope Alex can bounce back so we are at full strength.”

Joshua Gordon can be reached at 875-1795 or at joshgordon@craigdailypress.com.

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