Rifle slides by Bulldogs in final minutes | CraigDailyPress.com

Rifle slides by Bulldogs in final minutes

David Pressgrove

Rifle — A playoff atmosphere surrounded the Moffat County High School soccer game against Rifle Tuesday night. Maybe that’s because the final game of the Bulldogs’ season was the closest to a playoff game they were going to get.

“We weren’t going to go down without a fight,” Bulldog senior Brad Hurd said. “This was the last time some of us were going to play a high school game.”

The Bulldogs, 4-8 in Western Slope Conference play, gave the 10-1 Bears all they could handle until Rifle scored in the 77th minute to take a 3-2 lead after trailing 2-1 early in the second half.

“I don’t know if Moffat was playing for a playoff spot,” said Rifle coach Tom Taucher. “But they sure played like they were and gave us one of their best games of the year.”

The Bears took an early lead in the 19th minute when a David Romero throw-in was headed in by Seth Martin.

In the first 25 minutes, the momentum and the ball stayed with the Rifle attack. The Bears out-shot the visiting Bulldogs, 7-1, then, in the final 15 minutes of the half, Moffat County started to find its way to the Rifle net. In the 37th minute, a Brendan Beachman corner kick was knocked around in front of the goal and Alberto Olivares knocked it past Rifle’s goal keeper, Roman Tencza. The half ended in a 1-1 tie.

“I told the guys at halftime that I was pleased with their effort because they had played a great half,” Moffat County coach Mick Havrilla said. “Then they stepped up the intensity even more in the second half and I was dumbfounded they had that much more.”

Just as the Bears had out-shot the Bulldogs at the beginning of the second half, the Bulldogs reversed the rolls at the beginning of the second. Two diving stops by the Tencza kept the Bulldogs out of the goal. In the 15th minute of the half, a free kick from Moffat County’s Hugo Quezada bounced out of the hands of Tenczaj13

to the feet of Quezada’s teammates Hurd and Marcos Quezada, who were ready for the reflection and Hurd put it in the goal.

Rifle’s attack returned halfway through the second half as three throw-ins from Romero threatened the Bulldogs but Moffat County’s Malcom Hillewaert turned away all three close calls. In the 22nd minute of the second half, Romero shot a loose ball past Hillewaert from 12-yards out.

“I told the guys we needed at least one more when we went up, 2-1,” Havrilla said. “I knew Rifle was too good to give up a one-goal game at home for its homecoming.”

Both teams exchanged shots for 12 more minutes when a free kick from Rifle was redirected by a sliding Bobby Layman past Hillewaert in the 77th minute.

“Their first and third goals were unlucky for us,” Hurd said.

“We’re still waiting to get a break this season and I guess it isn’t going to happen,” senior Derrick Thompson added.

Havrilla said he was pleased with what he saw for the team’s last game.

“We came out and played aggressive soccer for 80 minutes,” he said. “That was a performance that I hadn’t seen from our team on the road.”

Taucher and his team were relieved the season series was over.

“To play to double overtime there and then score in the last minutes for the win here is some exciting soccer,” Taucher said. “It’s never dull against Moffat.”

Despite the loss, Havrilla was somewhat glad that the game ended in regulation.

“I don’t know if my heart could have taken another overtime,” he said.

The game finishes out the season for the Bulldogs, who went 4-8 in the conference and 5-10 overall.

David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or dpressgrove@craigdailypress.com

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