Moffat County soccer improves on nervous 1st half with Roaring Fork | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County soccer improves on nervous 1st half with Roaring Fork

Bulldogs take win in Grand Junction to start season 1-2

Moffat County High School's Gio Tarango and Roaring Fork's Edwin Candela rush to be first to the ball during a Saturday game at MCHS. Roaring Fork won 7-0 in the Bulldogs' home opener.

Moffat County High School boys soccer coach Rusty Cox has one steadfast rule for his players — never walk off the field with your head hanging.

And, though it was tempting to give in to negativity, Bulldog athletes kept their chins up following the home opener.

MCHS took a loss Saturday in its first game on home turf this season, falling 7-0 to Roaring Fork.

Following an initial 10 minutes that Cox described as "phenomenal," Moffat County players started to lose their heads after the Rams' Will Rose put in an unexpected goal following a foul.

A more frantic defense started to show, and Aidan Sloan put in two more swiftly for Roaring Fork, the second of which he had to fight for as he beat goalie Daniel Moore but had to contend with a block by Wyatt Nielsen, scoring on the rebound.

A cross by Marco Ramos into the corner of the Moffat County box and a quick boot directly in front of goal by Ronald Clemente made it 5-0 at halftime, though Cox was far less concerned with the tally than the Bulldog spirit.

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"Pick your heads up," he instructed players as they gathered on the sideline. "I'm not ever going to have a team walk with their faces in their dirt."

Cox emphasized that they simply "settle down" and play the game rather than panic over the score.

MCHS fortunes improved from there as the Bulldog defense cracked down — including a virtual keeper's clinic by Moore, who had 20 total saves for the day — and Nielsen and Victor Silva rushed the Ram goal, Nielsen narrowly missing a shot that soared overhead.

Roaring Fork responded by likewise swarming Moore as Alvin Garcia scored twice, though the cluster tactic didn't work well for the Rams on the other side of the field.

Late in the game, Roaring Fork's Edwin Candela knocked heads in front of his own goal, taking him off the field as well as Moffat County's Juan Loya, which drew a penalty kick for the Dogs.

Silva took the shot, which was knocked down by Rams goalie Leo Loya.

"That's the best game they've played so far," said Roaring Fork coach Nick Forbes, "Today, I could just tell from the warm-up that we were on."

Roaring Fork improved to 2-0, following a 4-2 win Aug. 29 in Rifle, the same day MCHS fell 2-0 in Basalt.

Cox said he was puzzled why the home game was tougher than the road, though with his return to the Moffat County soccer program after a three-year hiatus and a roster that's still in transition, he feels the rest of the season looks positive.

"We had a few hiccups, but they settled down, second half was good and strong, we reorganized and did great," he said. "We're playing a little bit different than what they're used to, but they're getting there. Those hiccups are what you learn from, you take those opportunities and you improve on them."

MCHS soccer also played Central High School Tuesday in Grand Junction, and the Bulldog squad, perhaps renewed from the holiday weekend as well as some returning players, was ready and raring to battle the Warriors.

The Dogs won 1-0 off a goal by Juan Loya, assisted by Axeel Mendoza, while Moore’s first shutout of the year included 19 saves.

Moffat County next hosts Vail Mountain at 4 p.m. Sept. 12.