Moffat County soccer triumphs, 4-2, against Rifle
Team has rainy Thursday, 4-0 loss against Roaring Fork
Craig — Tuesday was the worst game the Moffat County High School boys varsity soccer team has had this season, which may have explained its newfound zeal the following day in recapturing something that’s evaded it for the past month.
The Bulldogs came out strong Wednesday against the Rifle Bears to claim a 4-2 win, their first since playing Grand Valley on Sept. 6.
After weeks of losses — some close, some not so close — the team was ready to make something good happen against the only league in the 3A Region 3 opponent they had yet to meet this year, thanks to rescheduled games with Rifle.
Moffat County’s Ulises Silva was all over the field from the get-go, putting one on the scoreboard about 12 minutes into the game, but the sophomore was far from finished.
After a successful Rifle penalty kick by Alexis Ramos tied up the score, Silva put the Bulldogs back in the lead, finding net again following a corner kick by Hugh Turner.
The Bears upped their offensive efforts near the end of the half, but MCHS goaltender Alex Arellano blocked shot after shot until the whistle blew, with Moffat County ahead, 2-1.
MCHS looked strong after halftime, as the Bulldogs converged on Rifle’s goal right away, with the strategy of drawing out the keeper having a pro and a con: A shot by Turner hit the crossbar and was finished quickly by Luis Lopez for the third point, but Turner took a cleat to the knee for his trouble and had to be taken out of the game.
Rifle began to match Moffat County’s aggression, catching up after a lengthy shot by Alex Rivas sailed beyond Arellano’s reach.
The 3-2 tally didn’t last long once a header from Silva put the ball back in the Bears’ goal near the end of the game, though the resultant collision with the goalie had MCHS coach Harry Tripp in an uproar as Silva was slow to get to his feet.
“They (the referees) weren’t calling anything about that,” Tripp said.
Nevertheless, the game was a positive one for the team, with Silva’s hat trick accounting for three of 15 shots on goal, nearly half of the 33 attempts by the Bulldogs.
“I wish all my forwards were like him today,” Tripp said.
Chatter between teammates was a factor, he said, and an improvement over the performance Tuesday on the road against Vail Christian High School, with the 7-0 loss — a season low — motivating the Bulldogs to do better.
“The goals just kept coming,” Lopez, a senior, said about the Tuesday game. “We were finally talking and passing today.”
Tripp hoped his players would be able to get on a streak, with a game against Roaring Fork on Thursday, but the Rams came to play.
A drizzly atmosphere was a far cry from the Wednesday sun, and some of the lingering MCHS injuries only were exacerbated. Turner and Silva were in and out, while Micaiah Prescott couldn’t play at all because of a concussion suffered against Rifle.
Marco Ayala and Jesus Duarte also had to be taped up, and Tripp rotated in many of his junior varsity players to compensate.
A first half that finished 1-0 in Roaring Fork’s favor only got more difficult, and Moffat County let in three more goals to end it 4-0.
Arellano had 16 saves Thursday, part of a total 58 in all three games this week, whereas on offense, the Bulldogs managed only six shots against Roaring Fork.
“Defense held their own, until it unraveled a little bit toward the end,” Tripp said. “Our midfield wasn’t there today, and we were forcing it a bit.”
As the week concludes, this makes the season record 2-9-1 and 1-6 in the league. Next week are the final three games as the Bulldogs travel to meet Grand Valley and Rifle, then host Steamboat Springs on Thursday.
The Steamboat game will be Senior Day, and Turner said he hopes the week to come will be a strong overall effort by the team.
“I just want to see hustle and 100 percent out of everybody,” the senior said. “Let’s go out strong, finish it strong.”
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