Moffat County soccer kicks off league play in physical game with Palisade
For the Craig Press
A new conference opponent was on the field Tuesday against the Moffat County High School team in what was truly a battle of the Bulldogs.
MCHS faced off against Palisade in what would amount to a 9-1 defeat for the hosting team of blue and black jerseys versus the white and maroon, both bearing the name Bulldogs.
The newly configured Western Slope League is a 3A and 4A mixed group this season, hence the addition of Palisade and Glenwood Springs among the schools Moffat County sees more regularly.
The game started off very much in favor of MoCo, when less than 2 minutes into the action, a free kick by senior Erick Payan went into the Palisade net for the first score of the afternoon.
The celebration was cut short less than a minute later as Palisade tied it up quickly.
And the cycle kept repeating itself as the visiting team relied on lengthy, angled shots to get past MCHS goalie Eli Gomez.
With three goals in quick succession in the last 10 minutes of the opening half, Moffat County trailed 8-1.
A far cry from the home opener against Caprock Academy with a well-rounded Palisade bench, MCHS coach Diego Quezada charged his set of Bulldogs with buckling down on defense.
And, while the second half didn’t see any more MoCo goals, they were in better control of containing their foes.
Quezada noted that he had players working to be everywhere on the field wherever they might be needed.
“Erick kind of played all over, and so did our new guy, Ramon,” he said, referring to Italian exchange student Ramon Tomassini.
An aggressive moment from Gomez 10 minutes into the half resulted in a yellow card and penalty kick for Palisade, with sophomore Brayan Tarango filling in for Gomez on the play.
Palisade seemed to score on the attempt, but the kick came before officials signaled. A redo saw the ball go over the goal, much to Tarango’s relief.
“I was just shocked that they chose me to go in there,” Tarango said. “All I had to do was choose a side, and I’m really glad he missed it.”
One final goal minutes later by the visiting Bulldogs resulted in a man taken off the field, and from there, MCHS stayed steady.
“In that second half, we got more confident with each other and had a lot of changes, that really helped us a lot,” said Tarango.
Tarango is back as a defender for the second year, and he’s already seen things improve compared to his freshman year.
“Last year we had a good defense, but now we have better passing and we can create more of an attack,” he said. “I feel a lot more confident with my touches, and I’m better at passing. Last year, anytime I got the ball I would just kick it out. Now I’m more composed.”
Gomez earned 18 saves, and though the shot totals weren’t what they were against Caprock, MCHS managed three shots on goal, including a late push by striker Santiago Quezada to try for another score.
At 1-2 overall, Moffat County’s first taste of league play will lead into this weekend as they travel Saturday to face WSL team Aspen.
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