Moffat County soccer paired a poor first half with a stronger second one, but the late wake-up was not enough to make up its deficit.
The team hosted Coal Ridge in its home and Western Slope League opener Tuesday at Woodbury Sports Complex, falling, 4-0. After giving up three goals in the first 18 minutes of the game, the Bulldogs settled down and played the Titans much more evenly for the rest of the game.
Head coach Rusty Cox attributed the slow start to nerves, which he has seen in the team’s scrimmages and warm-up games this season at the beginning, as well.
“We’ve got to calm down and be calm in the first half,” Cox said. “We need to get settled and start finding each other’s feet (with passes). We were doing things that we don’t like to do in the first half.”
Moffat County surrendered three goals quickly, mostly as a result of individuals from Coal Ridge beating several defenders with the dribble. Enrique Bucio wreaked havoc in the midfield for the Titans, helping them score eight minutes into the game, then again five and 10 minutes later.
After that point, and especially after halftime, the game was played much more in the midfield as teams traded possession and Moffat County’s defense solidified.
“The second half we played way better,” said goalkeeper Alex Arrellano. “It was much more even.”
Arrellano left his mark on the second half, making several diving saves to keep the margin at three goals.
“I was feeling good today,” he said. “I was pumped because it was the first game and I wanted to show Craig that goalie is my spot.”
Moffat County was able to create a couple chances late in the game, but shots didn’t reach the target or went just wide. Coal Ridge added on one final goal with three minutes remaining from the foot of Edgar Enriquez.
Despite the shutout loss to start the season, Cox wasn’t discouraged. Coal Ridge was a state semifinalist last season and beat Moffat County, 11-1, to kick off that season. He saw this 4-0 defeat, and the 1-0 loss during the last 60 minutes, as much better.
“In the second half we contained them,” Cox said. “They slipped a goal in late, but it was much better. We would’ve hung with them if we could’ve calmed down from the start.”
Arrellano also saw positives to take away and build on moving forward.
“I look at some of the saves I had and some of the things we did good,” he said. “That’s what we have to think about. I don’t bag on our guys for the things they screwed up, just look at the things they did good.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org