Soccer team keeps control of Palisadein road win

David Pressgrove

The Moffat County soccer team does not need to win the possession game to win a soccer game, but when the Bulldogs can keep the ball away from an opponent it doesn’t hurt.

“We aren’t a ball control team,” coach Jeff Hammond said. “It did look good though at the beginning of the second when we just kept attacking.”

Moffat County kept Palisade from establishing an attack until a few nervous moments at the end of the second half in a 2-1 win Saturday.

The win erased a forgettable performance two days earlier in Craig.

On Thursday, Moffat lost a 3-2 game to Steamboat Springs after beating the Sailors 3-1 earlier in the season. Hammond thought his team recovered well from the loss.

“The kids wanted this after the Steamboat loss,” Hammond said. “They came out aggressive and played our kind of soccer.”

The Moffat County type of soccer right now is one that relies on goals off quick changes of possession and restarts. Senior Jose “Pepe” Loya, is the team’s go-to guy for offense. The Bulldog midfielders chip the ball over the defense and let Loya run to it, or they pass the ball to him and let him do the rest. On Saturday, Loya found the net in both situations.

Loya opened up the scored on a penalty that was created when a Palisade player was burned and had to foul in the goalie box.

The second goal came just two minutes into the second half off a free kick. Senior Schuyler Hammond sent the free kick to Loya, who had his back to the goal about 20 yards out. Loya tapped the ball to his left, turned and drilled the ball past Palisade goalie Chris Martin.

Loya’s two goals gave him 18 for the season. That number is the best single-season tally in school history and is in the top five in Class 4A.

It’s not like other teams aren’t aware of Loya’s scoring ability. During the game, the Palisade sideline was continuously yelling, “know where No. 9 is.”

The win also was attributed to players besides Loya.

The Bulldogs were without three starters for the game and Hammond thought his younger players who filled in did the job.

“Those guys stepped up,” he said. “We needed them to play well today for us to win.”

Palisade tied the game up at the end of the first half on a penalty kick. But after Loya’s penalty kick in the second half Palisade spent most of the second half trying to keep the ball from Loya.

“I thought our defense and midfield kept us in it today,” Hammond said. “Now we have some big games to prepare for.”

The Moffat soccer team has games against the two teams ahead of them in the league on consecutive days this week. The Bulldogs play a rescheduled game against second-place Glenwood Springs today and then league-leading Battle Mountain on Tuesday.

The loss to Steamboat means that Rifle could move into a tie for third place with Moffat with wins against Palisade and Eagle Valley, if the Bulldogs don’t win this week.

Moffat tries to earn its first third-place finish in the league starting at 4 p.m. today.

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