Moffat County soccer comes up short in strong games with Grand Valley, Aspen
At halftime of Bulldog soccer’s latest game, Moffat County High School senior Axeel Mendoza was of two minds.
On one hand, he was concentrating on evening up the 1-0 lead Aspen had at that point, but he was also thinking about another pressing matter. Before the action started up again, he hustled to the sidelines, sign in hand to secure a date with Cristiann Reyes for Saturday’s Homecoming dance.
She happily accepted, which kicked off Moffat County’s best 10 minutes of the day, though the energy wouldn’t quite last as long as it needed.
MCHS fell 6-2 against the Skiers Tuesday in the Dogs’ Homecoming game, a match that fell in line with many of their games as the numbers overwhelmed them before the end of the afternoon.
A strong first half filled Moffat County players with confidence, behind by only one goal and ready to make up the difference.
Aspen’s Henry Morrison got on a breakaway to score another one for the Skiers less than three minutes into the half, but Vlajko Pavlovic got the Bulldogs on the board less than 40 seconds later by storming the Aspen goal.
Pavlovic was in position again moments later, but the tying goal went to Josh Pando, who put it in the box from only a few feet out to get the Bulldog bench excited.
However, the Skiers kept it in Moffat County territory for a long stretch, as their forwards and midfielders kept pushing their way into the MoCo defense, able to score four more times with the Bulldogs slowing down.
“Once again, it came down to our conditioning,” Pando said.
Coach Nathalie Boelen credited it to having only 14 of the 21 players on the roster available to suit up for the day.
Pedro Romero had to stay benched for the Aspen game following the Bulldogs’ Saturday event in Parachute. The game against the Grand Valley Cardinals was a physical one, and an inadvertent outburst led to Romero getting a red card penalty.
“By the third time they went for my ankle, I was already getting bruised,” he said.
The Grand Valley game finished 6-3 for the Cards. Still, Boelen said the second half was an example of fortitude as the Moffat County crew refused to quit despite trailing 3-0 as Pavlovic put in two goals and Pando one.
“They came back and rallied, played like crazy,” she said. “If we have the first half of this game and last game’s second half and have that attitude that whole time, we can play awesome.”
MCHS boys had 19 shots against Grand Valley, with 15 saves in goal against the Cardinals. Against the Skiers, they brought their shot total up to 24, while keeper Sabastian Hershiser had 19 touches.
The Aspen game was the first of the season for Mendoza — aka “Sonic,” the moniker on his personalized jersey, which the Dogs wore for their Homecoming event — who was recently cleared academically to get back on the field.
“It’s my senior year, last Homecoming, and I really wanted to be out here for it,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a hard game, but we still did good today.”
As far as his Homecoming proposal, it was something he planned to do before the game with multiple contingencies. He presented Reyes with a sign that said, “It’s my biggest goal to have fun with you, soooo…” but also had a soccer ball at the ready that said “HOCO?” beneath the Nike slogan “Just Do It.”
An additional sign came with an iced tea from McDonald’s: “I would McLove if you’d be my sweet tea @ HoCo w/ me.”
While Moffat County players have a rest for the remainder of Homecoming week, they’ll have their work cut out for them in the coming week, traveling to Basalt Oct. 2, hosting Delta Oct. 4 and on the road again Oct. 6 at Carbondale’s Colorado Rocky Mountain School.
Now 0-7, the Dogs are in the hunt for their first win with only 3A Western Slope League teams on their radar for the rest of the season.
“Just getting that win, that’s all we want right now,” Pando said. “We get that and these freshmen will be a lot more confident.”
With players finding themselves in new parts of the field Saturday afternoon, the Moffat County High School soccer team had more than a few difficulties against its latest opponents, though if there was one takeaway for their coach it was the benefit of Bulldogs getting new perspectives.