MCHS soccer earns first win over Steamboat Springs in 11 years
Moffat County High School soccer team had been waiting 11 years for what occurred on Thursday.
The Bulldogs defeated Steamboat Springs for the first time in the program’s history at the Loudy-Simpson complex in Craig, 1-0.
“This is like Christmas for me when I was a little kid,” said MCHS senior Eric Havrilla, who scored the winning goal on a penalty kick in the 57th minute. “We pulled it out and I’m glad I was part of history.”
The game was nearly a mirror image of the season’s first showdown in Steamboat with the home team winning on a penalty kick in the second half.
Steamboat coach Rob Bohlmann said the difference in the second game was the Bulldog’s ability to take control.
“They just out played us today,” he said. “Their defense was being very creative with the ball and didn’t give us any room to play.”
Steamboat’s attack was lacking seniors Kyle Nelson and J.J. Jenny, who were out because of card violations in the team’s 2-0 win against Rifle Saturday. Nelson was sitting after receiving his third yellow card of the season and Jenny was out because of a red card. Nelson provided the winning goal the first time the cross-valley rivals met and is the leading scorer for the Sailors.
“We missed the consistency that Kyle and J.J. bring to the game,” Bohlmann said. “But our attack shouldn’t have suffered with their absence because we have enough personnel to step it up.”
Both goalies, Steamboat’s Kelly Carlson and Moffat County’s Brandon Duarte, put on a defensive show in the second half. Carlson had three diving stops and nearly blocked Havrilla’s penalty kick as it careened off his body into the right corner of the net. Duarte’s biggest save came in the 74th minute of the game when he laid out to block a free kick curving to the far post.
“Both keepers were unbelievable,” said Moffat County coach Mick Havrilla, who was still shivering from the water cooler that was dumped on him after the win. “Duarte continues to carry this team when it matters.”
At Wednesday’s practice, Duarte gathered his team and told them he knew it was time to beat the Sailors. His defense stepped up to the challenge, allowing six shots on goal the entire game and getting the team’s first shutout in conference play.
“I told them Monday we needed to go back to the basics that we started playing with at the beginning of the season,” coach Havrilla said. “That included focusing first on defense and creating from there and that’s the way it went tonight.”
After a cold and cloudy game, Havrilla said he hopes his team has poor weather the rest of the season.
“When it rolled in yesterday, we talked about how the cold weather was to our advantage,” he said. “We played well the first time (against Steamboat) in a downpour and we played even better in colder weather the second game.”
The win improves the Bulldogs to 2-5 in the Western Slope Conference and drops Steamboat to 5-2 and out of first place.
“The parity of play in this conference was shown tonight,” Bohlmann said. “Moffat County is a lot better than their record indicates.”
As for Bohlmann’s squad, he hopes the loss is a wake-up call: “We’ve struggled the last three or four games. I hope this gives us a little kick in the pants for the remainder of the season.”
From the other sideline, coach Havrilla said he couldn’t have been any happier: “Tonight was a great example of total futbol on both sides. I couldn’t have imagined a better game with the sportsmanship showed as well as the competition level. It’s a shame somebody had to lose.”
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