Moffat County soccer bounces back to beat Rifle, 6-2

League win puts Bulldogs in good position early in season

Andy Bockelman
Moffat County High School's Ulises Silva fires off a shot for his first of two goals Tuesday against Rifle. The Bulldogs won, 6-2, over the Bears to claim a league victory and will face the team again Saturday in Rifle.
Andy Bockelman

When it comes to sports clichés, “a tale of two halfs” is among the most overused, but sometimes expressions exist for a reason.

The Moffat County High School boys varsity soccer team looked like an entirely different group in the second 45 minutes of its Tuesday game, as the Bulldogs went on to win, 6-2, against Rifle in their first league game of the year.

The Bears set the tone early and were leading 2-1 with scores by Alexis Ramos and Elijah Haywood when the match went into halftime, a late goal by Ulises Silva the brightest spot for Moffat County at that point.

Coach Harry Tripp reminded his players not to get pushed around and lose their confidence, a plea that didn’t fall on deaf ears.

Silva struck again quickly in the second half to even it up, and the exhilaration had a domino effect.

“I wasn’t in the game as much, but then I started getting more into it,” Silva said.

Only a minute later, a midfield direct free kick by Spencer Turner sailed into the net, and the Bulldogs were back in business.

The team got on from all parts of the field a roll as Axeel Mendoza got in close, Marco Hernandez blasted in another long-distance shot, and Marco Ayala took the final score off another direct kick given to Moffat County after Rifle goalie Caleb Opstein came too far out of the box to grab the ball.

Bears coach Rich Carter said his team’s defense has had a tendency to allow multiple goals in a short period, most recently a 4-0 shutout on Sept. 10 by Roaring Fork.

“We usually play a very fast-paced game, but we played slow controlling the ball and then they got the goal, and then things quickly deteriorated,” he said. “It’s the same thing that’s been haunting us, once a team scores a goal, they score more rapidly. If we can clean that up and stay strong when we’re down, we’ll be fine.”

While Rifle — 2-3 overall, 1-1 3A Region 3 — meets Basalt Thursday, the Bulldogs — 3-1-1, 1-0 — have a few days to relax before meeting the Bears again, in a non-league capacity, Saturday.

“I think they’re going to be more aggressive for sure, but I think we can beat them again,” Silva said.

It’s been a busy week for the Dogs, who won, 2-0, on the road against Grand Valley and stuck it out Monday hosting Aspen in a game that was called a 3-3 draw early due to storming.

The weather wasn’t much different Tuesday, but the attitude was, and the initial shakiness almost became their undoing.

“They settled down in the second half, and maybe it takes me yelling at them to get focused because they got rattled there at first,” Tripp said. “That shows perseverance that we can come from the trenches like that and boom, win the game.”

Tripp said, and he hopes to see the boys keep up the energy moving into the weekend.

“It’s going to be a lot closer, probably, but hopefully we keep our midfield and keep doing what we do, good little passes, good little through balls, and we’ll finish strong,” he said.

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