Moffat County soccer battles Central Warriors all the way to golden goal overtime
After a pair of shutout losses to start the season, members of the Moffat County High School boys soccer team made up their minds that the next game would be different. And, even if it wasn’t a perfect outcome, Bulldogs delivered on that promise to themselves.
MCHS went to extra minutes Saturday in a high-energy game against Grand Junction’s Central Warriors, ultimately falling 5-4 in overtime.
A 2-0 halftime lead by the Warriors proved a minor hurdle as the Dogs came back onto the field ready to change up the action.
Moffat County’s loss earlier in the week against the Grand Junction Tigers was a tale of two halfs that they weren’t eager to repeat. A third goal by Central could have dampened their spirits, but the Bulldogs chose to go the other way and narrow the gap.
“I think part of the motivation was getting so badly there,” said head coach Nathalie Boelen. “They said, ‘Coach, we can’t do this again. We’ve got to go all the way next game.'”
The team’s first goal of the year went to Josh Pando, who drilled it in following an indirect free kick, but the Bulldog excitement only grew when Vlajko Pavlovic knocked a second one into the Warrior net and couldn’t help but rip off his jersey in jubilation, drawing a yellow card as a result.
The renewed Moffat County attack on Central’s goal kept coming as Pando tied up the total with a direct kick that got past Warrior keeper Isaiah Pollard with 15 minutes remaining.
Central retook the lead as they snuck one past Bulldog goalie Sabastain Hershiser, but the Warriors were on edge when Pollard collided with MCHS’s Angel Bueno, who made a point of ensuring his opponent was not seriously injured, only getting the wind knocked out of him.
The Dogs evened up the score once again thanks to a corner kick that Pavlovic and Bueno fielded, a combined header between the two of them sending it into the box.
As the whistle blew, the game moved into a golden goal scenario, 10 minutes with the first score winning it all. With both teams looking for their first win, athletes played through their exhaustion to end it as quickly as possible.
The MCHS offense came on strong and twice looked like they’d finish things up off direct kicks as Pavlovic arced a shot over the goal, while Bueno’s attempt at a DK was blocked by the Warriors, with a rebound shot by Christian Orona barely clearing the crossbar.
Central spent less time in Moffat County territory during the OT period, but they made it count, as Warrior Kenny Downard was able to put one past Hershiser, who finished the day with 23 saves.
Altogether, Moffat County had 14 shots and 18 total free kicks in a day that was an example of huge improvements.
“We had a fantastic practice Friday, working on passing the ball, and you can see it on the field,” Boelen said. “They’re actually pushing the ball versus just running around by themselves.”
Taking a game into OT and just missing the win was emotionally draining for players, though Bulldogs chose to see the glass half full.
“I’m not happy that we lost, but we had a lot of great communication and teamwork,” Bueno said.
MCHS next hosts Palisade at 4 p.m. Tuesday.