Rusty Cox said it wasn’t the prettiest ending, but his team got the job done.
The Moffat County boys soccer team used a strong start Thursday afternoon to hold off a hard-charging Grand Valley squad at Loudy-Simpson Park, 4-3.
It was the second straight win for the Bulldogs, who improved to 3-6 on the year. They have hit their stride as Cox has found a lineup formation he likes more.
Senior Erik Silva started out as a defender on the team but has moved to starting striker. Conversely, Bryant Cox moved from forward to being the anchor of the defense.
“It’s been a big improvement,” Cox said. “Erik’s so fast up front that if he gets the ball on the ground at his feet they can’t keep up with him. And Bryant is big and tall and plays beastly in the back.”
Moffat County rushed out to a 3-0 halftime lead on the strength of a balanced attack. The first goal came just three minutes into the game when Silva had a shot blocked on a breakaway, but Kelly Campbell followed it up with a tap-in on an empty net.
Silva would later put a shot off the post and Alan Flores dinged another off the crossbar. Flores then broke through with six minutes remaining in the half by dribbling through several Grand Valley players before placing his shot nicely into the corner of the goal.
Grand Valley coach Eric Sarno said his players’ effort wasn’t at the level they needed when the game began.
“The last ten minutes we made it a little interesting,” Sarno said. “We got a slow start definitely in that first half. We were playing from behind and the intensity wasn’t there in the first half. The second half was much better.”
The Cardinals would get back into the game. Francisco Vicencio scored on a strike from around the 18-yard line early in the second half to give them life.
Flores buried what would prove to be the game-winner five minutes later, when he got the ball in a breakaway and beat Grand Valley keeper Tucker Schultz.
With less than five minutes remaining and a three goal lead, the game looked well in-hand for the Bulldogs.
But Luis Vicencio scored off a free-kick pass with 3:42 left, and Francisco added his second goal of the game a minute later on a free kick into the net from 30 yards.
While Sarno liked his team’s second-half effort, Cox was not as impressed with Moffat County’s inability to close the game.
“We just backed off a hair at the end and we’ve got to stay solid all the way through,” he said. “That’s kind of an issue we’ve had all year, being in it for most of the game and losing it at the end.”
For the final two minutes and change Moffat County managed to bear down on defense and keep Grand Valley from getting any good scoring chances to preserve the win.
This game was rescheduled from a week ago, so the Bulldogs and Cardinals will meet in back-to-back games. They play each other Tuesday in Parachute.
Sarno is looking forward to getting a shot at revenge.
“I think this was a pretty even match,” he said. “I like our chances. (Moffat) is a good team but I think we showed we can play hard with them, and the rematch is at our place.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Craig Daily Press sports coverage on Twitter at @CDP_Sports.