Moffat County boys soccer team looks to improve under a familiar face
The Moffat County High School Boys Soccer team looks to rebound under first year head coach Diego Quezada. The team started practice on March 8, and kicks off their season Thursday when they take on the Palisade Bulldogs. This is Quezada’s first year coaching the varsity team, a team he played for until his graduation in 2016, after he coached the freshman team back in the fall of 2020.
Quezada wants his players to be a very well conditioned team as the first half an hour of non-pregame practices is made up of various conditioning drills.
The Bulldogs are coming off five consecutive losing seasons, with their last winning record coming in Quezada’s senior season, when they went 7-6-1. While Quezada is looking to get back to the program’s winning ways, he is not putting a ton of pressure on his young team to do so this year.
“I would say we’re still a learning team. We’re still a very young learning team. I do have a handful of seniors [and] a handful of juniors, but the majority is all sophomores and freshman,” Quezada said. “So I have a lot less experienced players, [and] also I only have a handful of returning players coming back from last year. So, we’re basically looking at like 75%-85% of the team is new, as far as players and coaching staff.”
Quezada is forced to view the game differently as the coach now, compared to when he was a player, because he has to command and focus on the entire team compared to just himself and the players in his immediate vicinity.
The Bulldogs are made up of 10 upperclassmen heading into the season. One of the team’s top returners is junior Erik Payan, who pocketed 10 goals and 3 assists in 13 games last season. One of the most experienced players on the roster, he is hoping to be able to lead his younger teammates and help them throughout the season.
“Either if I’m captain or not, I’m hoping to help the team out. I’m hoping to help them learn better because we have new players now,” Payan said. “I’m hoping to teach them or make them learn something new or two for the sport that I really like.”
Another one of the key contributors from last season who is returning is senior Eduardo Olivera. Olivera is coming into this season wanting to play well both personally and as a team in order to prove that they belong in the league.
“I just want to prove everybody wrong from the league. On CHSAA’s website we weren’t even ranked, not even mentioned in the ranks,” Olivera said. “So we’re going to try to prove everybody in our league wrong.”
With Quezada not very far removed from playing for the MCHS Bulldogs when he was a student, the players look forward to playing under him because he can relate to them.
“It feels great. It’s a change from all of the years that I played soccer here. He understands how players feel. He’s pretty young as well, so it’s going to be a learning experience for all of us,” Olivera said. “I think it’s going to be a big improvement from last year.”
One of the changes that CHSAA made to the soccer season is moving it from the fall to the spring as a result of COVID, which was a good change in Olivera’s eyes.
“If we do go to the postseason, it would be awesome because last year, in the fall (of 2019) it goes all the way into the winter, it gets really cold,” Olivera said. “But this year it gets warmer throughout so we don’t have to worry about the weather too much.”
March 18 Palisade V 6:00 Away
March 25 Vail Mountain V/JV4:00/6:00 Away
March 30 Aspen V/JV 4:00/6:00 Home
April 1 Roaring Fork V/JV 4:00/6:00 Home
April 3 Gunnison V only Doubleheader Noon/2:00 Home
April 6 Basalt V/JV4:00/6:00 Away
April 8 Coal Ridge V/JV 4:00/6:00 Away
April 15 Delta V/JV 4:00/6:00 Home
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