Soccer team raises eyebrows in Western Slope Conference
While no teams have questioned that the Moffat County High School soccer team had improved from the last couple of seasons, the Bulldogs record was just 1-5 in the Western Slope Conference.
With the two victories last week, including a 3-2 win over Rifle Saturday, the Bulldogs officially became a factor in the conference.
“The only thing deceptive about Moffat County is their record,” said Rifle head coach Tom Taucher. “They’ve got the speed, size and style of play that makes them maybe the best team in the conference right now.”
The Bulldogs played spoiler for the Bears, who could have contended for a playoff spot if they would have won their final three games.
“We had some disappointed seniors today after the game,” Taucher said. “But we just couldn’t come through.”
The Bears opened up the game with the first goal, which was bad news for the Bulldogs who had not overcome a deficit in any of their conference games. But, as Taucher said, they are playing well right now and were able to overcome the Bears’ first goal with three of their own and then hold off the Bears in the last ten minutes.
“After that first goal, we came alive and started talking to each other on the field better,” said MCHS head coach Mick Havrilla. “It was exciting to watch.”
Hugo Quezada scored the tying goal 34 minutes into the game when he knocked in a free kick from Eric Havrilla that was bouncing around in the goalie’s box.
The Bulldogs came out in control the second half, keeping the ball on Rifle’s side of the field for almost the entire first 10 minutes. Three minutes into the half, Eric Havrilla tapped a pass under the oncoming Rifle keeper, Nick Worley, and Brad Hurd outran the defense and nearly ran into the goal post on his way to slamming a shot into the net.
“We came out the second half to win,” senior C.J. Brown said. “With it being the seniors’ last home game and everything, we wanted it bad.”
In the 50th minute, two Bulldog youngsters hooked up for what would be the eventual game winner. Sophomore Dustin White crossed a pass to junior Kaleb Brown, who lofted a shot over Rifle’s goalie Worley for the score.
“That was a beautiful shot by Kaleb,” coach Havrilla said. “I could tell by his body language that he was ready to get the score.”
The Bulldogs held off a late surge by the Bears. Rifle scored a goal in the 76th minute and had two other close calls all coming with the Bears having only 10 players after an unsportsmanlike penalty resulted in a red card and ejection.
“I knew we could hold them off,” Hurd said. “We’ve gained more
confidence in each other down the line in games and that made the difference.”
Mick Havrilla said his team continues to grow toward what he envisioned at the beginning of the season.
“They are developing the comfort and confidence they need to play in every situation on the field,” he said. “It’s getting to the point where the players are teaching each other on the field and I have more of a chance to watch them grow together than coach.”
The win sets up a chance for the Bulldogs to go 5-5 in the conference with wins in their final two games against Palisade and Glenwood Springs.
“I told myself we could go .500 in the league,” Havrilla said. “I wasn’t’ sure it could happen, but it’s great we’ve put ourselves in the position.”
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