Moffat County soccer rolls past Rangely in rematch with Panthers |

Moffat County soccer rolls past Rangely in rematch with Panthers

Moffat County High School's Ebawnee Smercina lines up for a big boot as the ball floats her way, backed up by Crystel Montes, left, and Nayeli Perez. MCHS girls won 4-3 against Rangely.
Andy Bockelman

They had to work for it, but the members of the Moffat County High School girls soccer team truly earned their first home win of the season.

MCHS took a 4-3 victory Thursday against Rangely, ending a cold streak that has followed them since the first time they beat the Panthers 3-1 in late March.

Now 2-9, MCHS girls were looking to repeat their only win of the season but were taking nothing for granted against a team that, now 0-9, had just as much incentive to get one in the W column.

Nayeli Perez put in the Lady Bulldogs’ first goal at about the 20-minute mark from 18 feet, right at the edge of the penalty area, a high shot rolling off goalie Kaylalle Fortunato’s hands to drop past the crease.

Perez returned to the same spot about 10 minutes later to drill another one into the net. The hat trick came a few moments later from yet again the same position.

The Bulldogs’ hopes of a shutout came to a close late in the first half when Rangely’s Klaire Denny lofted a high shot past keeper Bailey Lawton to make it 3-1 at intermission.

With the sides switched, Perez didn’t rely on the same spot, instead charging the goal to put it in for her fourth score about five minutes into the second half.

While Perez had all four goals, she didn’t do it alone — in assists, Jackie Barraza had three and Candy Tarango one.

From there, the Panthers increased their assault on the Moffat County goal, and Lawton responded in kind.

Playing far out of the box allowed her to shut down most of Rangely’s approaches — finishing the day with 19 saves — though the tactic left too much space as teammate Terry Gillett scrambled to keep the ball from crossing the line to no avail.

Later, a knockdown by Lawton on a low shot by Skylar Thacker also looked like a sure thing only for the Panthers’ third goal to come from the ricochet.

Another late attempt by Rangely to tie it up and possibly force overtime saw a swarm of players in front of the Moffat County goal, Lawton finally throwing herself onto the ball like a grenade to force them to disperse.

“We were trying to spread out more since bunching together has been a big thing for us this year,” said captain Trinitie Beckner. “We’re controlling the ball more now and playing soccer instead of kickball.”

Rangely had 26 shots on goal to the Bulldogs’ 16.

Both sides wanted the win, each recording their best score of the season, but it was the girls in white who had cause to celebrate at the final whistle.

Coach Rusty Cox was glad to put aside a long stretch of defeats, most recently 10-0 Tuesday in Basalt and a 12-0 Saturday road loss to Aspen that ended at halftime amid snow.

An April 17 game against Vail Christian was also plagued by poor weather, and teams opted not to count it.

The Rangely win is one that had Cox biting his nails a bit.

“We kind of made some adjustments in the second half, got back into the game again,” he said. “First half, we worked really hard, then we backed off and Rangely took advantage of that. They picked up all of our mistakes and capitalized on them, but I’m glad we squeaked that one out.”

MCHS girls will finish their season next week at home with a May 1 game against Coal Ridge and a Senior Day game May 3 with Grand Valley.

“Now that we’ve got this home win, it’ll really increase our confidence so we can get a couple more dubs (W’s),” Beckner said.

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