Flat first half costs Bulldogs | CraigDailyPress.com

Flat first half costs Bulldogs

David Pressgrove

It was an upset.

In the past, using that phrase when the Steamboat Springs and Moffat County soccer teams met meant only one thing — that the Bulldogs had found a way to beat the mightier Sailors.

But this year, things were different because the Bulldogs were favored and Steamboat won, 3-2.

“I would definitely say Steam–boat upset us,” Moffat County coach Jeff Hammond said. “They came in and out-played us, especially in the first half.”

For the first 11 years of the rivalry, Steamboat had beat Moffat every time. Coming into Thursday’s game, Moffat County had won four of the past five meetings.

The Bulldogs won the first meeting this season, 3-1, and were in third place in the Western Slope League with a 5-3 record. The Sailors were 1-6-2 in the league and in sixth place.

Steamboat started their upset bid early.

Max Hamil burned the Moffat defense in the fourth minute of the first half to put his team up 1-0.

The Bulldogs rebounded when Pepe Loya answered four minutes later.

Hamil found the net again in the 18th minute on a play almost identical to his first goal.

“That side had a great rhythm at the beginning of the half,” Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said. “We’ve been trying for that kind of rhythm most of the season.”

Loya, who leads the league in goals with 16, tied it back up three minutes after Hamil’s second goal. He won a ball from two Steamboat defenders and beat Bjorn Lickteig for his fourth goal of the season against the Sailors.

The Sailors attacked again with Hamil. The junior was tackled from behind in the box in the 35th minute of the frist half. He beat Moffat goalie Malcolm Hillewaert to the right on the penalty kick. It was Hamil’s first hat trick of the year.

“(Hamil) frustrated our defense in the first half,” Ham–mond said. “He made us wake up, but it was too late.”

In the second half, both teams had opportunities, but nobody could finish. Both coaches commented that their teams played well the second half, but for the Bulldogs it was too late.

“We didn’t play until the second half,” Hammond said. “I hope this can be a wake-up call.”

Bohlmann said that his team is learning to play the entire 80 minutes.

“All of our league games have been,” he said. “We’ve just let down at one point in the game, but this team is learning what it takes to be aggressive the entire 80.”

Lickteig put the final touches on the win with a tip over the goal in the final five minutes.

It was his first full game since mid-September.

Steamboat was coming off a 1-1 tie against Palisade Tuesday and a 2-0 loss to Battle Mountain. The loss to Battle Mountain was the closest any team in the league has come to the Huskies this year.

“I’m really proud of this team’s progression,” Bohlmann said. “They have shown a lot of character in perseverence.”

Hammond thought his players came into the game with the opposite attitudes as Steam–boat.

“I could tell this week in practice this wasn’t going to be our best game,” he said. “There was no fire at all.”

On Saturday, Moffat travels to Palisade to try to sweep the Bulldogs after beating them 1-0 the first time around. The game is the first of three in four days with Glenwood Springs on Monday and Battle Mountain on Tuesday.

The Palisade game starts at 11 a.m.

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