Moffat County soccer sends off seniors, heads to OT with Steamboat
With another week of play ahead, Moffat County High School boys soccer continued to shift in their final home game as well as meeting their regional rivals on the road.
MCHS hosted the Coal Ridge Titans Tuesday for their last match of the fall on their own field, which included a Senior Day ceremony for their oldest athletes.
During halftime, Bulldogs sent off their two upperclassmen — Canyon Chambers and Landen Najera.
The pair of seniors have had varied experience on the soccer pitch, with Landen joining this fall with his younger brother, Spencer, to supplement their stamina on the basketball court this winter.
Though the elder of the Najeras found he was a natural fit in a defensive role, he also has been coping with a spinal condition that kept him off the field early in the season.
Though he plans to be ready for hoops, being part of the fall team nonetheless had its positives as part of a group that’s kept fighting even in rough conditions.
“Sometimes they can get upset with themselves, but it’s been a fun group of guys to play with,” Landen said.
Canyon has been part of Bulldog soccer since his freshman year, utilized all over the field primarily as a midfielder.
“I’ll definitely miss all the players, my team,” he said.
With his father, Jeremy, part of the coaching staff along with head coach Nathalie Boelen, Canyon added that’s enhanced the experience.
“It gives us a different set of options out here,” Canyon said.
The Dogs’ game with the Titans Tuesday fell in line with many of the group’s outings this year, with Coal Ridge finding a scoring rhythm against a smaller Bulldog bench.
A 5-0 halftime lead led to a 10-1 final, and though the Titans had the advantage in quantity, it was MoCo that had the most noteworthy goal.
Erik Payan prevented a shutout with several minutes remaining as he launched a shot nearly from the center of the field that bounced past the Coal Ridge keeper as the Dogs’ bench exploded with delight.
Though outmatched by the Titans, the Bulldogs headed east to face off with Steamboat Springs’ freshman team Wednesday.
The contest ended up being Moffat County’s closest of the fall, as Steamboat won 3-2 in extra time.
Steamboat got on the board first just seven minutes into the game, but Moffat County tied it up. With 13:27 seconds remaining in the first half, Payan barreled toward Sailors keeper Charlie Welch. Welch slid, but couldn’t control the ball. Payan tapped the ball around the fallen keeper and with a Sailor in pursuit, easily sent the ball into the net.
A two-on-one situation resulted in another Steamboat goal to put the home team up 2-1 at the half.
In the second, the Sailors kept putting shots on Bulldogs goalie Sabastian Hershiser, but he made save after save to keep his team in it. About eight minutes into the second half, he faced a penalty kick taken by Olin Webster. 70 lifted the ball to his left, and Hershisher read it perfectly. He dove with his fingers spread, batting away the ball.
“My goalie, he’s fantastic,” Boelen said. “We’ve won one game this year and he’s still staying in it. … He does a phenomenal job. He misses them every once in a while, but he’s doing a great job.”
While his work between the posts prevented the Sailors from adding to their lead, the Bulldog offense had to step up to erase the lead.
Josh Townsend was the one to do that. As the clock ticked past the 24-minute mark, he sped past his defender and lifted the ball in a gorgeous arc the dropped behind Welch’s head and into the net.
His goal marked the first time Moffat County netted two or more goals since Sept. 17.
Townsend went down late in the game, which granted the Bulldogs a direct free kick. Payan took the shot, which deflected off the crossbar.
Preserving the tie, the Bulldogs battled on defense, preventing the Sailors from capitalizing on a pair of corner kicks that got the ball dangerously close to the goal line.
Their effort forced a five-minute overtime, with Sailor Tomas Niedemeier scoring on a rebound.
Still, Boelen was happy with the game.
“Watching them, especially on a turf field, they’re being able to use the field better. They’re talking a lot more,” she said. “As soon as we got that one goal, everyone was like, ‘Hey, we can actually be in this game.’”
MCHS will face Roaring Fork Oct. 22 and finish out the year with a road rematch of Colorado Rocky Mountain School Oct. 24.