Playing for respect

Team plans to show it's better than seed

David Pressgrove

Last week the Moffat County boys soccer team spent time at practice playing a game called World Cup. The game involved each player trying to protect his own ball while everybody else tried to kick it away.

“It’s kind of like you against the world,” coach Jeff Hammond said.

“You against the world” would be a fitting theme for the Bulldogs going into the Class 4A playoffs today. That’s because after earning the second-to-last seed in the playoffs, the only people in the world thinking they have a chance are themselves.

“At first I was a little angry,” Hammond said of his team’s No. 31 seeding. “Would I have liked to be in the 20s? Yes. But am I concerned about it now? No.”

The Bulldogs (6-8) were paired up against the No. 2 seed, Broomfield (14-1), for a Wednesday night matchup on the Front Range.

Some question about Moffat County’s seed is because it finished in front of Rifle in the Western Slope League standings, but the Bears were seeded 10 spots better.

Moffat County finished the league 6-6 and Rifle 5-7 in the league, but Rifle’s last loss came against Eagle Valley Saturday. The records for the seedings were due before Rifle’s loss.

The Bears finished 8-7 overall in the season and had non-league victories against Montrose (No. 9 seed) and Class 5A Grand Junction. The Bulldogs didn’t have any wins out of league play and their overall record of 6-8 didn’t look as good as Rifle’s (especially since the final loss wasn’t turned in yet).

“We can complain, but there’s no point now,” senior stopper Schuyler Hammond said. “We just have to focus on Broomfield.”

The Eagles won the competitive Northern League with one loss, a 1-0 setback against Mountain View. The seeding marks the second-consecutive year the Bulldogs will face a Northern League opponent. The Bulldogs lost last year 6-1 to Mountain View.

Even with that loss, the returning players from last year have something no Bulldog team has ever had; playoff experience. This year’s playoff appearance is only the third in the program’s 14-year history.

“I think we know what it takes now,” Schuyler said. “I’m a lot less nervous going into this game than last year.”

The Eagles are a high scoring team with the second-most goals, 82, in the state. In comparison, Moffat County scored 27 goals this year. In three games the Eagles scored11,10 and nine goals; some quick math and it’s easy to see they had more goals in three games than the Bulldogs did all season.

“Broomfield is similar to Battle Mountain and Glenwood Springs in our league,” coach Hammond said. “They try to spread it out and attack through the middle, and I thought we played well against those two teams at the end of the year (both 2-1 losses).”

Coach Hammond also thinks the Eagles are looking past his team because of its seed.

“They think we’ll come in and roll over,” he said. “I hope that means they’ll underestimate us.”

An article in Tuesday’s Boulder Daily Camera about Broomfield in the playoffs had two sentences about Moffat County and the rest was about the teams the Eagles could potentially play in the next two rounds. Coach John Davidson was quoted talking about the quarterfinal match up against Mullen.

“There are always upsets in the first round,” coach Hammond said. “The only way we can improve seeding in the future is play well and earn respect.”

Battle Mountain is a case study for earning a Western Slope team respect. Last year the Huskies were the top team coming out of the league and they were given a 16th seed. They lost to Liberty, the eventual state champions, by on goal in the next round. This year the Huskies had a similar record but earned a fifth seed.

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